Michio Kurihara's sublime solo debut is an impressionist concept record that refracts the golden radiance of the magic hour, its nine songs drawing inspiration from nine different sunsets spanning across the calendar year. A largely instrumental effort, Sunset Notes is foremost a showcase for Kurihara's remarkable guitar work -- his leads soar like exotic birds in flight, brilliantly evoking the moods and colors of the solitary moments in time the songs capture.
Ronnie Hawkins is known for many things but ballads are not one of them. Bear Family’s 2011 set proves this to be a misconception, illustrating that Hawkins is as adept with a slow burn as he is with a hopping rockabilly beat. Strictly speaking, these aren’t all ballads, at least not in the folk sense: there are plenty of those, but there are bluesy grinds, swaying slow dance crossovers, rolling progressive country, and any number of slow tunes, all of which are handled with ease by Hawkins.
Bear Family’s generous 30-track disc skips through the eras with grace, with simple early-‘60s sides sitting next to slicker ‘70s productions, but the disc never plays schizophrenically; rather, the shifting sounds reveal how Ronnie Hawkins could always deliver a song with unassuming skill.