Damon Aaron Highlands

While bit parts in such stalwart Cali funk crews as Breakestra and the Rebirth have no doubt boosted his esteem through the years, it’s been a few well-placed solo gems that have put L.A. native Damon Aaron in good standing with the influential Gilles Peterson set. Highlands, the singer’s third LP, offers more of the float-y, down-tempo acoustic soul Aaron has come to hone and perfect over the past decade. Dynamically layered acoustic guitar lines and inventive, minimalist percussion form the root of the majority of this set, behind the varied blend of horns, keys, bass and generally spacey tones that complete each cut. Making the most of a relatively limited vocal range, with a tone that recalls a subdued Ben Harper, Aaron spins husky, soulful tales of love and life over sparsely built, echoing soundscapes ("Floating”), chilled reggae rhythms ("Clouds”) and pulsing, synthesized, moulded hip-hop beats. Though the ultra-laidback tempo rarely changes throughout, the record’s goal of filling life’s quieter moments is successfully achieved. (Ubiquity)