One of the things that makes Taj Mahal such a remarkable artist is the absolute ease with which he blends blues, rock and Caribbean and African influences.

One of the things that makes Taj Mahal such a remarkable artist is the absolute ease with which he blends blues, rock and Caribbean and African influences. And not only does he pull that blend off, but he also continues without fail to hit you in the pit of your soul with it. Absolutely delightful, the sunny-day/cool-breeze-night songs of "Hanapepe Dream" find him further incorporating more tropical elements by embracing the sounds of Hawaii. Along the way, he covers Mississippi John Hurt ("My Creole Belle"), Bob Marley ("African Herbsman") and Bob Dylan ("All Along the Watchtower"). The sax-laden Dylan piece is wonderfully spooky, with Mahal delivering a gravelly vocal against steel guitar strains. The ukulele-soaked title track is a gorgeous tropical instrumental. And it would be a crime if his flute-spiced take on "African Herbsman" doesn't make the next Mahal anthology.—WO