Fish Outta Water not Karen Lovely Singing Blues
The cover is alluring, Karen’s bejewelled eyes inviting you to explore the dozen tracks that tell me once again the Karen is never a Fish Outta Water when singing the blues with soulful emotions. Building on the power and impressions left from her acclaimed 2010 release Still The Rain. On Fish Outta Water, Karen has handed much of the song writing over to producer Eric Corne; Five tracks have the Lovely skills two co-written with her producer, two co-written with Mark Bowden her touring Guitarist.
At the heart of the album is the seductive vocals of Karen Lovely; the tones and textures bounce of the musicians who she has surrounded herself with on Fish Outta Water. Two guitarists are used across various tracks, either Rick Holmstrom or Doug Pettibone with bassist Taras Prodaniuk and Drummer/percussionist Matt Tecu pulling in the deep driving rhythms that the heartbeat of the album. Other instruments blended in shaping of tracks, used as colourful punctuation.
The title track pulls you deep under the watery depths; as you listen you feel in the company of friends you can breathe; Fish Outta Water not Karen Lovely Singing Blues. The instrumentation syncopated to reflect and build on Karen’s powerful vocalization. R’n’B that draws on a moody vibe; lit up by the Skip Edwards mastery of the Hammond B3.
With a beat of the drum, the mood is change as we are sitting Under The Midnight Sun setting the pace and full of clever licks and the use of saxophone adding a soulful aire to the proceedings. Having listened to the album a number of times I know that it is the variation that makes you sit up, listen and pay attention to every track. The words are there for a purpose as the story of the song is unveiled with a mix of tempos; we have a thread of continuity Karen Lovely’s vocals her understanding of the blues.
Looming with intent is countrified Big Black Cadillac, this is no city slicker leading into for me the song of the album Hades’ Bride (There Was A Time); a slow burner as Lovely explores domestic violence and sexual assault. Opening with beautiful acoustic guitar tones from Al Bonhomme, the mournful tones picked up by the searing violin and deeper tone of cello creating the tonal palette of the track. The story is sung by Karen with thoughtful delivery of the prose as blues and country meld in a perfect flowing harmony across words of pain and control; as wings are clipped and punches thrown. Emotive words spun with shrewd connections. Atlas, the world on his shoulders, Frazier’s punch and the use of being the Bride of Hades heroes from myths pulled together with clever phrases creating the allusion that all is well whilst underneath living‘s hell. Hades Bride a love song, how it can be distorted turned hateful with the control and misuse of power creating a life full of hurt and pain feels like a true story from the past many have lived through. And sadly, many still living through. For Karen this is more than a song as she actively supports RAINN USA’s largest anti sexual violence organisation.
How to follow that opening to the second half of the album, with explosive upbeat sound of Molotov Cocktails. Doug Pettitone’s guitar is sharp underpinning the vocals. The tempo maybe upbeat there is a darker feel once again front the chords of the organ and guitar as Karen sings, “let’s have another round of Molotov Cocktails”. The song as you would expect form Karen is not a girls night out in a cocktail bar having fun it is the darker underbelly of geo-politics of living in a world surrounded by social justice.
All change as we shuffle into Chicago for an optimistic number Next Time things will be better! Closing out the album we have a country fair vibe almost a jug band sound as Punk Rock meets Johnny Cash. Vocals observe a busker playing for nickles and dimes in a subway. Once again gritty side of life is captured in a few words in a melodic cry as a picture of now is painted by Karen Lovely’s vocals and words. Closing with a The River’s Wide, we are back at the waters side. Down by the water with the Hammond Organ and Karen’s soulful vocals as once again we visit pain divisions widen.
Karen brings a fluidity to the album it flows and no track is a Fish Outta Water; this is an album that feels at home in any lover of modern blues infused with country and soul collections. This is an album where the song is the key and every track tells a story you want to hear. Stupendous album of blues that demands you to listen to. With every play you hear another crafted lick; astute vocal phrasing. Fish Outta Water never when in the company of Karen Lovely. I recommend you explore the album it is full of hidden depths; no written review will ever be able to convey.
Karen Lovely – Fish Outta Water
TENdoodle paws out of TEN ….
- Fish Outta Water
- Under The Midnight Sun
- Twist My Fate
- Waking Up The Dead
- Big Black Cadillac
- Everything Means Nothing
- Hades Bride (There Was A Time)
- Molotov Cocktails
- Next Time
- Nice and Easy
- Punk Rock Johnny Cash
- The Rivers Wide