Maro Kawabata

Carolina Blue – 2001 (Copper Creek)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

CDs by Maro Kawabata

Maro Kawabata plays bluegrass that cuts across the dividing lines of genre and appeals to the heart and the ear. Bluegrass is popular worldwide, but has a particular stronghold in in his native Japan. Kawabata became a fan as a child, the day he first saw Bill Monroe. Now, he offers this collection of songs from such strong writers as Bob Wills, Townes Van Zandt, Lester Flatt and Monroe.

His version of "Faded Love" is haunting, one of the best you'll ever hear. He shows his accomplishments as a guitarist with strong backing from Butch Baldassari and Missy Raines. His songwriting talents show through, too, as on the title track.

Kawabata takes no back seat with his vocals. He offers standards like "Dark Hollow" and "Colleen Malone" - one of the strongest cuts - to ventures into country with "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight." He made a broad selection of songs, and they worked.