The exotic and sensual first radio single, “Sway,” previews the January 20 album release that conveys the urgency of the moment.
Three minutes to midnight. Time is lapsing. What would you do with the final moments of your day? Award-winning world beat guitarist Lawson Rollins pondered that question as he entered the recording studio to craft his seventh album, “3 Minutes to Midnight,” which will be released on January 20 via the Infinita Records label. Focusing on “the urgency of the moment, the exhilaration of the speed of sound, the poignancy of the remains of the day and the mystical power of the number three,” Rollins wrote a dozen multicultural compositions - all in the three minute range and illuminated by his prodigious fingerstyle guitar play. The recording is stripped down, punchy and concise, a radical departure for the Billboard chart-topping artist known for creating lavishly produced and elaborately-constructed tracks that are at least twice as long.
“I really made an effort to pare down my musical flights of fancy and focus on the essentials instead of diverging into various plots and subplots within the song structure. The songs have an urgent, succinct quality and are unencumbered by elaborate instrumentation. This is the first time I came up with the title and overall concept early on in the process. I don’t know if it’s a reaction to the times we live in, with our shrinking bandwidth for complexity and desire for clarity, or if I just wanted to be as impactful and expressive as I could across a range of emotions - from exciting, passionate and bursting with energy to sad, contemplative and meditative,” said Rollins, who will introduce the new material when the sultry first single, “Sway,” is serviced to radio programmers for airplay ahead of the album’s release date.
Like his previous discs, Rollins produced “3 Minutes to Midnight” with multi-platinum producer Dominic Camardella utilizing the same core group of musicians. Grammy-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassist Randy Tico and drummer/percussionist Dave Bryant joined Rollins (guitar, keyboards, drum programming) and Camardella (piano, Rhodes piano, Hammond organ) along with newcomers to the fold Stephen Duros (drum programming) and Forrest Marquisse (pedal steel). Since fans have marveled at videos of his dazzling and dexterous classical guitar technique that have generated a whopping 8 million YouTube views, Rollins welcomed cameras into the Santa Barbara Sound Design studio to capture the recording of his guitar parts for three videos – including one lensed during the tracking of “Sway” – that are now posted on YouTube and Rollins’ website (www.LawsonRollins.com).
Rollins has landed on Billboard’s Top 10 World Music Albums chart and four of his collections placed singles on the Billboard Top 30 contemporary jazz radio chart. Recently he collected three major awards from the Akademia Music Awards (Best Jazz Song), the USA Songwriting Competition (1st place, Instrumental) and the Global Music Awards (triple gold medal winner). Why does the number three continue to come up for the long-time San Francisco resident?
“Three is a significant number that resonates in the human psyche and has a mystical power in our culture. Three is significant not only in world religions, but also in simple human terms with our body, mind and spirit triad. With songs, we have a beginning, middle and end. We even sync up with others on the count of three. Ready, set, go!,” noted Rollins, who released the albums “Traveler” and “Infinite Chill (The Remix Sessions)” last year, spawning the radio hits “Berlin Bossa” and “Café Paris (chill remix).”
The “3 Minutes to Midnight” album, which was mastered at New York City’s Sterling Sound, contains the following songs:
“3 Minutes to Midnight”
“Light the Way”