Follow The Sun by Craig Chaquico

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Follow the Sun

  • Release date: May 19, 2009
  • Label: Shanachie
  • Catalog #: 5172

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When the famed rock guitarist emerged from his years with Jefferson Starship (later Starship) and became a solo artist in the mid-’90s, his popular adult contemporary instrumental sound was anchored in a distinctive vibe he defined with the title of his debut solo album, Acoustic Highway. He was coasting along that road for years before deciding to pick up his blazing electric axe again for his Latin-flavored 2000 hit “Café Carnival.” The track’s success no doubt inspired him to start mixing acoustic and electric on subsequent projects, and Follow the Sun — his first non-holiday disc in five years — blends the best of both sounds. It kicks off with the blazing Latin and blues fired, Santana-like “Luz Da Mae,” which in Portuguese (Chaquico’s heritage) means “Mother Moon.” The next track, “Azores Lisboa,” which refers to the Azores Islands and Lisbon, has a similar electric and brassy Latin party vibe which will make the listener wonder if there’s a theme taking shape. Turns out, the disc is dedicated to the memories of Chaquico’s beloved parents, whose families hailed from Lisbon. There’s also a nice tie-in to the past as he uses the first guitar his parents ever gave him on the ambient meditation (featuring acoustic and electric) “The Coast of Orion” and the happy and jangling “Island Breeze.” The set can be enjoyed thoroughly even without knowing that emotional element, as it mixes the guitarist’s bright and eternally optimistic melodies with playing that is seductive when it needs to be (the soulful, tropical “Fantasy in Paradise”) and edgy and crackling soon enough (the robust, urban flowing “Barefoot in the Sand”). Adding a blues-rock flair to everything Chaquico does is his longtime right-hand man, keyboard great Ozzie Ahlers. While all of the originals are compelling, Chaquico makes a few quirky, history-filled cover choices which may puzzle fans a bit. Kenny G’s “Songbird” set the standard for the smooth jazz era but is more generic than the unique sound the guitarist centered his own career on. And the original instrumental version of “Lights Out San Francisco” (from 1997’s Once in a Blue Universe) is longer than this pleasant vocal version with singer Rolf Hartley.

1 Lua Da Mae (4:50)
2 Azores Lisboa (5:21)
3 Fantasy in Paradise (4:53)
4 Circus Beach (4:57)
5 Barefoot in the Sand (3:47)
6 Lights Out In San Francisco (3:29)
7 Songbird (5:19)
8 The Coast of Orion (5:44)
9 Island Breeze (3:45)
10 Solar Wind (3:41)