Russ Hewitt has a new album out now. It’s titled Chasing Horizons. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
According to his official website, Russ Hewitt is a Dallas, Texas-based guitar virtuoso and composer. His rockin’ resume includes three previous platters including his debut disc, 2008’s Bajo El Sol, the follow-up 2011’s Alma Vieja, and his last release, Cielo Nocturno, which dropped in 2016. His list of credits also includes several singles and music videos.
Russ Hewitt’s signature sound is a fluid mix of multiple music genres including (but not limited to) flamenco, nuevo flamenco, latin, montuno, rock, samba, and world music.
Chasing Horizons is a 10-track album of all original instrumentals. Hewitt leads the way on rhythm and tres guitar. He is backed by an assortment of other artists including co-producer, bassist, and keyboardist Bob Parr (Cher, Brian Setzer Orchestra, and Barry White), percussionist Efren Guzman (Alejandro Fernandez, Armando Manzanero, and Andrea Bocelli), and drummer Walfredo Reyes Jr. (Santana, Steve Winwood, Chicago, and Frank Gambale).
Track by Track
The album opens with “Allende.” It evokes an almost summery feel and introduces new listeners to Hewitt’s steady yet fluid signature sound. It is but a foreshadowing of the sophisticated, expert offerings to come.
The titular track, “Chasing Horizons”, makes an exceptional single. It has a rumba or flamenco feel to it but with an edge. That underlying je ne sais quoi might be due in part to the appearance of guest solo musician Nuno Bettencourt. Bettencourt, who has more recently worked with Rihanna, might best be known to readers as the lead guitarist for the rock band Extreme. The juxtaposition of tuneful talents makes it memorable.
The next number is the newest single “Vivir Libre.” It is an admittedly impressive audio offering. Here Hewitt goes tunefully toe to toe with ex-Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman.
It seems to have an element of montuno to it. On his website, Hewitt confirms this while discussing the cut’s creation. He said:
“I set off initially to write a heavy groove Latin song that would translate well live. I used the Tres guitar I got from Cuba to harmonize with the guitar throughout the song, including the main riff and chorus. Due to the key this song is written in [C sharp minor], I was able to come up with a unique chord progression for the solo section utilizing the open E string. After the chord progression was written, I instantly thought that it would be something Marty Friedman would write and that he would be perfect for the song.”
“Amor Perdido” is a mid-tempo tune. There’s a rich, full flow to the music and Hewitt creates a new musical mood by bringing in Elijah M. Parr on drums and the Bucharest All-Star Orchestra. It’s a nice, unexpected change of pace.
“Luminous” follows. It is simply radiant. It’s perfect for a road trip and works to avoid being overshadowed by the more publicized previous pieces. No guest stars are required here. Hewitt’s signature sound and expertise remain solidly evident.
The sixth songful serving is “Sunset Samba.” It adds yet another light, tuneful transition to the release. It features guest musician Jorge Strunz of Strunz & Farah fame on guitar.
The seventh selection is “Luna.” This is another example of what Hewitt can do as a solo composer without any guest stars. It relies entirely on Hewitt’s musical mastery and has some welcomely familiar chord work.
The eighth audio offering is “Cubalia Cafe.” This one undoubtedly plays well with live audiences. It has a nice natural sway to it. Ardeshir Farah of Strunz & Farah guests on guitar.
Also included here is “Serein.” This is a brooding bit of mood music that takes listeners in yet another musical direction. It is also one last opportunity to listen to Hewitt on his own.
The closing cut is “Return To Simitai.” This distinctive track is one final example of how Hewitt musically works well with others. Here East meets West as Hewitt fuses his sublime sounds with the individualistic offerings of Vietnamese virtuoso Tri Nguyen on the zither.
Overall, the album is a unique, lush alliance showcasing Hewitt’s original works. It is both a nigh-mainstream and yet landmark nuevo flamenco release. He remains true to his creative muse and yet continues to think out of the box. So, check out Russ Hewitt’s Chasing Horizons because his instrumentals are “Luminous.”