Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Monday, June 30, 2008

album review: Kelly Hunt Mercy

Artist: Kelly Hunt
Title: Mercy
Writer: Rick Galusha
Rating: 7

If the South has Marcia Ball – then the Midwest has Kelly Hunt. Originating in Kansas City, Hunt has a storied career built by hard work and seemingly endless touring. While recognized by many, Hunt’s career seems to just shy of the level playing field that many national label artists muster. None-the-less this piano player continues to deliver solid albums.

Kelly Hunt’s piano focused sound blends a rough edged tavern blues with a contemporary melded blues that can initially be indistinct. The sounds and the textures are immediately recognizable, and there are plenty of “blue notes,” brought together with a less evident melody line but a strong groove. Most of the modern blues community will immediately be at ease with Hunt’s sound.

“They told her two girls could not make a life. This is wrong. Get up, find you a man and be a wife. Oh but when their eyes met they knew it was right. They had no choice but to follow this life. And their love was so big, all heaven broke loose. Their love was so big it made it stone truth.” And thus begins the third track, “Love” on Hunt’s album, ‘Mercy.’ While musicians have historically held a liberal bias, one wonders in the day of 24 hour news if music will continue to be a source for intellectual discourse or merely become a clanging gong of politically correct mind numbing. Clearly there are those who advocate the “shut up and sing” mentality while the oft kicked Constitution guarantees the singer a voice in the public square. When an artist chooses to employ a topical political issue in their art, and step into that public discourse, they open themselves up to criticism that can go beyond their art and focus’ on their content.

Personally I am less drawn to random topical issues being thrown amid recordings. Yes, I recognize an artist’s right to compose and preach but I also recognize my lack of appreciation of society’s seemingly endless polar tugs. I also have a personal desire to seek “just” entertainment for my money and my time. There are artists you come to expect political messages from such as Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Neil Young, Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen but at what point can you draw the line? I suppose at the ‘on/off’ button for you CD player. I skipped the last Springsteen tour; not because I necessarily disagreed with his bantering messages but because I didn’t want to have to pay to hear them. Call me a curmudgeon.

On the title track Hunt and band perform a haunting and beautiful ballad focused on a soft piano line emphasized by Hunt’s vocal lines. The singer advocates for personal mercy for herself and others. It is a wonderful and moving piece that should appeal to radio. In all this is a good, not great, album of songs by a hard working Midwestern barroom talent with aspirations to become a national artist. Hunt’s voice varies between Aretha Franklin in her prime and a modern Etta James’. The songs are above average but failed to fully capture this listener’s ear…although most listeners would find varying levels of enjoyment in this collection of songs.