Ten years after the launch of his solo career, Shanti Lo releases the long-awaited LERATO, his third album and first project since 2005.

The album, produced by world renowned guitarist John Blackie Selolwane (lead guitarist in Paul Simon’s Graceland tour and for 28 years to trumpeter Hugh Masekela), LERATO showcases Shanti Lo’s usual blend of Tswana folk music and a quintessentially Southern African blend of Afro Jazz and a new mix of soft rock (“Wait To Bloom”, where the maestro in Selolwane adds a layered section of three different textures of his well-travelled guitar) and samba (“Give Me My Life”), albeit in subtle portions.

To set the tone of the album, “A Re FoFe” opens a journey of a carefully crafted line-up that doubles as a story of the artist’s life experiences in love, disappointment, pain and a sharing of enlightenment and wisdom through these various mental affirmations. It is expressed in a mixture of Sotho lyrics and a touch of urban poetry and showcases Shanti’s diverse writing skill in the theme of forbidden love and elopement.

Then follows “Be Butle”, a slightly up-tempo piece tackling the issue of seeking parental acceptance for the path he’s chosen to become the artist he is today.

O Ya Kae”, adapted from Tswana folklore and the book of Psalms is a mid-tempo song; a warning to “tread softly, walk gently and listen” as one carves their path in the world.

Ke A Mo Rata” is a laid back flirtatious ballad about expression of intimate love and is often playful then desperately serious and intense, as in the staggato third verse and amid a smooth saxophone “Go bo-tlho-kwa ke go lo-tle-ge-le se-emo, pe-lo yaa-ka e tu-te-tse ke fe-la maa-tla”, loosely translated:  its important for me to make you aware of the situation, my heart is ripe, about to burst with emotion-I’m losing my strength!

In the title track “Lerato”, Shanti describes his yearning for personal freedom: freedom of expression to love and just be. This song is also choice for his very first video.

“LERATO” does not disappoint as it takes you through a journey of issues, ranging from family feuds, generated by a loss of trust in “Mauane” and “Kgogomodumo”, a mythical tale about a dinosaur that devoured a the people of whole village at their most complacent “during the time when they co-habited with human beings”, which Shanti says is a metaphor for any catastrophe that might befall the human race.

But a poem profoundly entitled “I Am That I Am” that appears on the sleeve is perhaps the definitive piece of the album. Shanti writes: You couldn’t be further from the truth…from reality…if you thought you knew me…because for just a single fragment of the day you witnessed a facet of who you think I am and perceived me as such in entirety!…I am crying because I’m hurt-not to seek attention, I am laughing because I’m happy-not to spite he who is less fortunate than me, I am only who I aspire to be-not where you choose to place me….I am that I am!

Except for the bonus track “all Mine (recorded at Mud-Hut Studio as part of an in-house collaboration project), the album was recorded and engineered by David Skizo Molosi, owner and founder of Tracks Studio, home to a number of extremely popular jazz projects, and was mastered at Rocket Road Studios in Johannesburg.

Check out Shanti Lo’s profile on My Space and sample some of his music at: