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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

Lawson Rollins "Heartwood" Review.

Artist: Lawson Rollins

Album: Heartwood

Release: 2023

Website: Lawson Rollins is a guitarist that is functioning at the highest level of his craft. He was named in the "50 Best Acoustic Guitar Players of All Time" list created by Guitar Player Magazine. His genre bending approach to the guitar is drenched in maturity and virtuosity. It is a style that was born from classical and gracefully moved into Latin jazz, seamlessly blending the styles into his own unique sound. Often it is not what he is playing but what he isn't playing that makes him stand out from the sea of great guitar players. He is a guitarist that has the chops to play almost anything, but seems to choose taste over everything. The title track Heartwood is a wonderful example of his ability to take his many influences and marry them into one coherent cocktail of his own. The classical influence is obvious in his technique, but Lawson somehow infuses it into a Latin flavored pop song. It reminds me of Sting, in the sense that he is able to pull from such a diverse menu but roll it all into one delicious meal that the listener does not need to be a musician to appreciate. Riding The Groove is a standout track. His ability to write a simple and singable melody is impressive. It is the simplicity that contrasts with the lead sections of this track that make it so appealing. He clearly has some serious guitar chops that need to be flaunted and are done so with fluidity and total confidence. Lawson avoids the trap of overplaying his hand that so many guitar players fall into time and time again. His ability to burn hot on a low flame with bursts of notes and then pull it right back to simplicity does not go unnoticed. If I had to choose a favorite cut I think it would be Signal Fire. A steel string slide guitar was definitely unexpected and worked perfectly to set a mood at the top of the track. The song has a strong Indian and almost Middle Eastern influence, but somehow would sit perfectly in a horse chase taking place in Mexico in1850. It is an incredible blend of moods and influences. This is another example of Lawson's ability to compose digestible melodies mixed with fearsome chops. This is a guitarist that so clearly means business, but seems to do it with the confidence of a smirk. Like the way Tiger Woods would casually smile as he ate his competition for lunch. Lawson Rollins is a world class player and composer.... plain and simple. His ear for melody is beyond rare. His latest effort, Heartwood is sure to satisfy even the most discerning ears. If you are a fan of great guitar playing there is nothing on this album that will disappoint. He somehow takes burning chops and makes them work in an easy listening environment, leaving the listener wanting more. I highly recommend checking out his entire catalog, starting with this latest album!

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