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/

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Album Review: Karen Lovely, Still the Rain

Artist: Karen Lovely
Title: Still the Rain

Perhaps it was her showcase in Memphis at the International Blues Competition last January…or maybe it the cool night breeze blowing in the car window that created the proper listening setting…but whatever it was Karen Lovely’s second album, ‘Still the Rain’ totally captured my ear. In a seemingly endless cycle of average blues CDs, Lovely’s new album is the brightest spot on the horizon and a good bet to make many’a Top Blues Album list this year.

Like many recording vocalists Lovely does not necessarily have the “perfect” voice however she is self-aware enough to choose selections that compliment her strengths and she pursues them with vigor. Lovely edges away from the well trodden “shouter” and the overused octave gospel slides: instead she mixes a speaking-singing style that is empowered by strong supporting instrumentation. And credit must be given to a band that underplays so tastefully to use space and serve the song. On the track ‘Other Plans’ Lovely presents the listener with a ‘simmering’ blues replete with a soft, lilting sax line played by Michael Vannice.

The unrushed tempo of the songs, the mile wide textures and intelligent, sensitive lyrics come together to present a near perfect independent blues release that belies the maturity of an artist releasing her second album. ‘Full Time Job’ is a solid blues song with a lush piano arrangement that for whatever reason reminds me of those (priceless) early Charlie Rich Sun Recordings. ‘Glad Your Gone’ opens with a B. B. King-like guitar intro that is at once comfortable yet fresh and new.

Lovely is fortunate to front the ‘Dawwg House Rhythm Section consisting of; Lee Spath, Drums; Richard Cousins, bass; Jim Pugh, Piano & B3 and Alan Mirikitani, guitar. The songs of Producer Dennis Walker and co-writer, co-producer Alan Mirikitani give Lovely the vehicles that separate this album from others.

‘Still the Rain’ is a magnificent album that burns ever so slowly embodying a perfect balance of showcase, songwriting, and professional musicianship. Imagine a subtle Diane Schuur fronting a mid-period Ray Charles in a very intimate, very dark night club setting. Radio programmers will find that the up tempo ‘Cold Man Cold’ is a nice entry to an album.