It can be difficult when researching an artist without a big web presence so some advice before you search because you will want to find out more about R K Turner: he is not the US aviator, nor the metal fabricator…this one is more a blues resonator. RK (Rich) Turner is an acoustic blues slide guitar player and songwriter from Northamptonshire, and has released work under the Slide Tracked and Steel Union (Bluesdoodles back in 2017 reviewed Steel Union album ‘Life…and Othe Problems’).
He also has one solo album under his belt with the 2019 release of Coming From My kitchen; a guide as to his influences as well as where it was recorded. In fact, Rich began playing in his early 20’s and lists Son House, Brownie McGhee, Big Bill Broonzy and (obviously from that title) Robert Johnson as his inspirations…and those artists are impossible to disagree with.
The album cover is rather cute: an anthropomorphised pebble all alone on a beach, photographed by Rich as well.
To the music opening with, I’m Going Under, has an intricate riff and the slide and voice duet works really well and, like any adept solo artist, has an inbuilt rhythm that needs no expanding. The harp is subtle and chugs between verses; the slide solo has that rawness that a decent bottleneck player should always preserve with the authenticity of the slide on, and in, the strings being audible. The same is true of the next track,
Only, which has a musical and lyrical bounce with, again, the harp just filling out the spaces and Rich using the guitar body as percussion without overdoing it. The guitar overdubbed duets would have been nicer if they’d lasted a bit longer.
Out Here On My Own is, incongruously, the only track where Rich is not on his own: as Paul Winn adds the harp flourishes to another slide driven song that has touches of Acoustic Journeyman about it. She Still Ain’t Home is more chord driven as the slide sings along with the lyrics; the short solo plays cleverly with the melody.
Gonna Dig A Hole is one of the best tracks to illustrate how, with limited lockdown resources, Rich has multi-tracked his skilful guitar (picked and slide) and built the vocal melodies around it all…this is the sort of song that needs to be played on a back porch; a brand new 1930s song.
Somebody To Watch Over Me brings out his inner Son House as the clarity of the guitar sound is purposely blurred a little and does that brand new old track trick again…and does it well. The latter, instrumental section is nice!
You’re Gonna Need Help Some Day and I Was Blind (But Now I See) both bring some twists to the format with the latter having a lovely picked (short) solo. If You Need To has a similar template but, with guitar body percussion and the guitar/vocal refrain this could be a brilliant electric and/or live experience.
Thank You Lord (For This New Day) takes a typical gospel base and adds the slide to keep it blues…it also has a great slide solo too and isn’t as preachy as it sounds.
The closing track, Penny’s From Heaven, is an instrumental that must be a dedication to someone close as Penny has a possessive apostrophe. Rich shifts to an electric guitar with gentle picked chords as an intro before the crystalline notes deliver the verse…Penny has either left or is joining in a melancholic, reflective piece that has an understated beauty.
Each track is very very good but, for maximum effect, I have interspersed them through my playlists where they stand out. Whereas, in one sitting, this can seem (even though it isn’t) a bit ‘samey’. It is a strong blues, slide driven album that is a very welcome addition to my collection where he will sit alongside modern blues troubadours like the lovely Half Deaf Clatch.
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle paws – a wonderful album of slide driven blues from the Delta of the River Nene.
I’m Going Under
Out Here On My Own
She Still Ain’t Home
Gonna Dig A Hole
Somebody To Watch Over Me
You’re Gonna Need Help Some Day
I Was Blind (But Now I See)
If You Need To
Thank You Lord (For This New Day)
Penny’s From Heaven
All songs composed by RK Turner
RK Turner: guitars, vocals, harmonica
Paul Winn: harmonica on Out Here On My Own
The album is available on streaming/download and CD via Rich’s Facebook page
(iTunes decided it was time for some psychedelic, heavy rock from Radio Moscow; an undervalued band with some great music on offer: try the superbly titled album, The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz for size and the simply brilliant Little Eyes.)