By: Jake Krolick
When summer winds blow warm, fragrant smells across our doorsteps, it's the outdoors calling to us. The primal urge to pull out your favorite faded lawn chair, pour a glass of beer and slip into a distant world is so strong it captures our minds, leaving us with tunnel vision. The only true fix is to escape deep within a book or a stunning album dedicated to bringing humanity back to the global village like Vusi Mahlasela's Guiding Star is a delicate map guiding you to distant lands with sweeping plains covered in tall, windblown grasses and twisted African Baobab trees.
Mahlasela pays tribute to South African culture, dance and language dipping into apartheid, friendship, love, joy, sadness and the larger global community on his second album. This significant activist, poet and musician captures your heart and mind with gorgeous traditional arrangements. Two elements pull at your emotions and ears throughout Guiding Star. First, Mahlasela has an incredible knack for placing the listener at ease in a manner similar to Cat Stevens or James Taylor. Second is how well his music intertwines with the huge array of guest musicians that grace these sessions including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Xavier Rudd, Derek Trucks, Dave Matthews and many others.
Although he thanks his core band - Ian Herman (Drums and Percussion) and Victor Masondo (Bass) - these two go virtually unnoticed, heavily overshadowed by the exceptional guests. On the other hand, Mahlasela blends well with everyone, proving himself an exceptionally adaptive musician that compliments the rainbow of styles joining him. This union of musicians creates a breathtaking journey across the face of a far-away land but blended with familiar voices that draw us in.
JamBase | Motherland
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