Artist: Peter Rowan
Album: My Aloha
Label: Omnivore Records
Release Date: 05.05.2017
Well, this is a genuine surprise, though why anyone should be surprised by any change of musical direction from Peter Rowan is anyone’s guess in reality. For decades Rowan has been turning out top-quality albums, performances and pretty-much pure genius.
From his days as one of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Band boys, where he worked alongside luminaries like the late, great banjo maestro Earl Scruggs, to his work with New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jerry Garcia, Sam Bush and countless others, Rowan has been an assured force to reckon with. Never one to be tied down, he has worked through the range of pure bluegrass to crucial reggae, crucial country and beyond with seldom a backward glance. His self-penned, New Riders-era Panama Red remains a classic in many ways and his Free Mexican Airforce still brings a knowing smile and a roar of approval to the festival crowd today.
With My Aloha, Rowan took himself off to Honolulu to absorb ambient sounds and record. The result is a superbly confident, self-assured album with ukuleles, slack-key guitars and Rowan’s always distinctive, octave chasing vocal delivery soaring through each of the 11 tracks on offer. Aloha is a truly inspired, original release from one of the USA’s music greats, a guy with nothing to prove and everything to give even after over 50 years on the road. This could have as easily been entitled “Crucial Hawaiian.”