Looking like real brothers, spiritual siblings Jimmy Dillon and Lorin Rowan have been there before, as THE EDGE, but individually backing such luminaries as Bruce Springsteen, John Lee Hooker, Stephane Grapelli and Jerry Garcia didn’t have enough time to mix their influences and shake it properly. Which they do now, and do it gloriously. Two singing guitarists throw themselves headlong into a milieu of kindred spirits to choose emotions over seriousness, and while there’s a tempered drama in the violin-woven Eastern bliss of “Istanbul”, the silky trumpet-twined piano of “Te Quiero” burns hot under the flamenco sun as does the organ-oiled opener “Crazy Lovesick Blues” that sets the scene in infectiously twangy way. The inevitable pleasure is wrapped around the 7-minute reggae overhaul of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” yet the skank gets gritty in “Revolutionary Man” dedicated to Jamaica’s greatest son and quoting his classics like “Buffalo Soldier” or, more context-consciously, “Is This Love”.
“Love Can Be”, here in both electric and sensual acoustic versions, can be too transparent to ingrain its message in full, but the title track “Love & Freedom” is a full-on carnival of samba vivacity. And if “Four Winds” harks back to the ’50s dancehalls, “Ponchatrain” grooves mildly in the saucy Crescent City style with a six-string duet taken to the fore and encouraged with handclaps and churchy chant, whereas “Perfection” rides the string lace into Mariachi sunset. The layers to peel are plenty here, all of them admirable. A strong contender for the “Album of the year” crown.