Recommended: Shawn Baltazor – “Lionsong”


There’s a sense of Shawn Baltazor wanting to go big on his debut recording.  Be it the strings arrangement on “King of Kings” or the electric guitar fury on “Momentum” or the acoustic guitar serenity on “Nostalgia” or the languid melodic sighs on “Folklore,” it all comes off like a determined effort to make a statement.  And it’s more than just individual passages contributing to this impression.  The rich diversity of sound on the sprawling Lionsong has a cumulative emotional impact, growing stronger as time passes, and making the album’s hour-long duration feel like a massive journey over too soon.  And, yet, it’s almost as if the drummer was holding back even then.

Tracks like “Pathways” and “With Each Breath” keep to conventional modern territory, but they snap right into place with their more eccentric counterparts by utilizing a nuanced melodic approach that highlights the duality of sunny and moody tones.  Members of the Silk Road Ensemble, The Knights, Qatar Philharmonic, and Houston Symphony Orchestra sit in for some guest spots, adding textures to a recording that has got plenty of ’em to give.

There’s a wide horizon line to this album.  Baltazor’s vision fills every last bit.

Your album personnel:  Shawn Baltazor (drums, percussion), Seamus Blake (tenor & soprano saxophones), Sam Harris (piano), Ben Monder (guitars), Ben Street (bass) and guests: Christina Courtin (viola), Clarice Jensen (cello), Jacob Silver (double bass), Shawn Conley (double bass), Julia Korodi (violin), Peter Pejtsik (cello), Bill Goodwin (triangle), Megan Conley (harp).

Released on the Fresh Sound New Talent label.

Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Bandcamp page.

Music from Los Angeles.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon