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Roll Acosta: The Dawn EP (Self-Released) 

Jacob (Roll) Acosta is a singer-songwriter and classically trained guitarist who fronts an acoustic folk-pop trio that bears his nickname. After recording Three self-produced albums, Acosta has joined with drummer Andre Gressieux and strings player Kevin Frederick to record this sweet four-song recording with production by Craig Schumacher, engineer to the stars, at Tucson's famous and busy Wavelab Studio. The EP is available from the band or on iTunes.

Acosta's vocals are friendly and warm, capable in limber falsetto, playful in the midrange and with just enough brooding in his lower register. He sings earnest, heartfelt songs, often about the tribulations of the heart and human consequence, with an emphasis on unflinching honesty and the sense of learning from his mistakes.

The title track here shows Acosta's range, and is enlivened by an energetic arrangement focusing on the jaunty violin of Frederick, who also plays mandolin elsewhere. Tasteful piano and organ fill out the spaces in some of the tunes, as well.

"Beating on the Door" is a charming, self-deprecatory rumination on a lost love filled with memorable nuanced lyrics such as "I still cross the street looking both ways for you" or "My mind keeps telling my heart, 'Get out of the way.'" The gentle energy of the melody and bouncy rhythm might seem to belie the sadness of the lyrics, but the contrast creates poignancy. The highlight is the lovely "Whirlwinds," which has an aching melancholy that recalls the richness of alternative pop of the 1980s and early '90s. More, please.

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