Guitarist Jesse Cook has been one of Canada’s brightest stars for years, blending African percussion, Cajun accordion, classical cello and pop vocals with his contemporary rumba flamenco. For Frontiers, Cook lived in Seville for several months, soaking up local color and gaining new inspiration from local musicians and festivals. Like his previous five works, there are fine toe-tapping instrumental jaunts like “Matisse the Cat,” “Vamos” and “Café Mocha,” along with more personal and moody tracks like “Turning” and “Rain.”
But it’s the vocal tracks that help make this Cook’s most fully realized CD. Egyptian-Canadian singer Maryem Tollar’s Enya-like chants help “Europa” maintain its duel optimistic and haunting qualities. And the Mexican folk song “La Llorona” is hauntingly brought to life by Amanda Martinez. But the song you’ll keep returning is the one that’s certainly most familiar: Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.” Against a steady rumba rhythm, Melissa McClelland lifts it out of the ordinary with her folksy vocals and endearing yearning passion.