|Karl Blau — Out Her Space (November 17, 2017)|
Karl Blau — Out Her Space (November 17, 2017)★★★ A prolific singer, songwriter, multi~instrumentalist, and producer. He is also an in~demand session and touring musician.
Location: Anacortes, WA
Styles: Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer~Songwriter
Album release: November 17, 2017
Record Label: Bella Union
Recording Location: Anacortes, WA; Post~Consumer, Austin, TX; Rarefied, San Diego, CA; Spacebomb and Minimum Wage, Richmond, VA
1 Slow Children 4:21
2 Poor The War Away 4:54
3 Beckon 6:18
4 Valley Of Sadness 4:41
5 Blue As My Name 3:35
6 I’ve Got The Sounds (Like You’ve Got The Blues) 5:34
7 Where Ya Goin’ Papa 8:45
8 Dub The War Away 2:45
℗ 2017 Bella Union
★ Stephanie Auld Vocals
★ Lindsey Beekman Vocals
★ Karl Blau Design, Engineer, Guitar, Layout, Mixing, Organ, Percussion, Saxophone, Synthesizer, Voices
★ Pinson Chanselle Drums, Percussion
★ Audrey Christesen Vocals
★ Phil Cook Piano
★ Rebekah Honaker Vocals
★ Bryan Hooten Trombone
★ Luke Jarvis Design, Layout
★ Cameron Lewis Photography
★ Bob Miller Trumpet
★ Cameron Ralston Bass (Electric)
★ Lauren Serpa Vocals
★ Melissa Sunderland Hardanger Fiddle, Viola
★ Randy Walker Cover Art
★ Matthew E. White Guitar, Synthesizer © ★ Hilltop Trampoline Unitango, Clarity Miller
★★★ Sequestered away in rural bliss, 90 minutes north of Seattle on the Washington state coast, Karl Blau has been making records for 20 years, but never with European distribution. So, when Bella Union released Introducing Karl Blau in 2016, it shone a belated and deserved light on “one of the great hidden treasures of music,” claimed album producer Tucker Martine. But given Introducing’s specific agenda — a set of gorgeous, lush cover versions drawing mostly on vintage Nashville’s country~soul with Blau concentrating on his rich, reverberating voice, his latest album Out Her Space is so different that it could be titled Reintroducing Karl Blau.
★★★ Out Her Space, released 17th November on Bella Union, features all Blau’s own material, production and multi~instrumental skills, and forges a gorgeous, languid and hook~infested gumbo of soul, funk, some jazzy blowing and Afro~pop, to arrive somewhere else entirely.
★★★ Out Her Space also testifies to Blau’s studio skills, as he captures the glimmering, humid depths of those sweltering southern influences, despite his north~western heritage. But then Blau has engineered and produced a heap of records for himself and others, often at his home in Anacortes, releasing records onWashington’s favourite indies K and Knw~Yr~Own, as well as through his own Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society subscription service. But Out Her Space comes from another place, with another story to tell.
★★★ In 2009, Blau had been asked to record Richmond, Virginia country~psych band Great White Jenkins, fronted by Matthew E. White. In 2012, when White started a new label, Spacebomb, based around a house band in the style of the old Stax and Motown ventures, he called on Blau again. The album that came from this partnership was White’s solo album Big Inner (snatched up by Domino Records), which The Guardian called, “a genuine revelation.”
★★★ Having heard Blau’s own demos, White ensured that Spacebomb’s hot~to~trot backing band — centred around (now Fleet Foxes) bassist Cameron Ralston and drummer Pinson Chanselle — supported Blau too, and he came away with an album’s worth of tracks, which also featured Blau (guitar, percussion, synth, sax), White (guitar, synth), Phil Cook of MegaFaun (piano) and a wider cast of horns, piano, viola and backing vocals. It’s partly where Out Her Space got its name: “It’s a cousin to Big Inner,” says Blau.
★★★ The album plays with humanitarian themes, against a backdrop of self~immolating American politics. For starters, the title Out Her Space was equally inspired by Blau’s, “overwhelming feeling to point out that men, in general, need to listen, to stop being so assertive and to get out of her space, let her balance again. Chill out dudes, rather than lead us over the cliff.”
★★★ The opening ‘Poor The War Away’ was written during the George W Bush era, “and it’s more relevant than ever. We’re steamrolling down the mountain side.” ‘Slow Children’ is a request for mankind to slow down, with a “rigid truth chorus” and “free association” verses, says Blau.
★★★ The speedier ‘Where You Goin’ Papa’ also works better in 2017 than 2012, since Blau’s youngest daughter is no longer a baby, and he can think about touring again — it’s another reason, he says, why it was worth delaying this album. ‘I Got The Sounds Like You Got The Blues’ addresses the same scenario — “as the family breadwinner, I’m telling my kids, don’t worry, I’ll be back” — while both tracks feature some mighty jazzy extemporising. “Some songs have long tails,” he says. “I thought maybe we should cut them off, but they grew on me.”
★★★ Another key track is the album’s country~rocking ‘Blue As My Name’: blau in German means ‘blue’, as well as ‘drunk’, “which is describing me, as I’m ‘drunk with wonder again’ in the song. I constantly find life is amazing, but alongside that, is the feeling that things are out of control.”
★★★ The world is out of control, but Blau’s life is anything but. Introducing Karl Blau did its job, as a great record and an introduction to a wider audience. Given Matthew E. White was voted a ‘breakout artist’ of 2012/13, then Blau, on this evidence, is unquestionably a ‘breakout artist’ of 2017/18. If Out Her Space has finally found the right time to emerge, so too has its creator.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ★★★★
★ When Bella Union issued Introducing Karl Blau in 2016, it was in actuality anything but; he had been making records for 20 years. Produced by Tucker Martine, who assembled it as a showcase for Blau’s voice, it was his 21st album, populated with gloriously sung and arranged country covers by Tom T. Hall, Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, Don Gibson, and more. Given the artist’s reputation for eclecticism, the songs fit him like a glove.
★ Out Her Space is a return to his own quirky and alluring form of music~making. Back in 2009, Blau recorded country~psych band the Great White Jenkins, fronted by Matthew E. White. Three years later, when White created the Spacebomb label (named for his orchestral~soul house band project), he called on Blau once more.
★ The resultant album was White’s Big Inner. Having heard Blau’s demos for this set, White returns the favor by not only playing guitar but bringing the Spacebomb House Band along. Megafaun pianist Phil Cook, various other horn and string players, and backing vocalists also contribute, with Blau returning to producing himself.
★ Out Her Space contrasts with its predecessor in employing a mélange of soul, funk, jazz, indie, Afro~pop, and yes, country in these eight songs. First single “Slow Children” is a case in point: its sweet pop melody is framed by Nigerian and Beninese juju~styled guitars, hovering brass, layers of synthetic and organic percussion, and an infectious hook. It’s followed by second single “Poor the War Away,” which juxtaposes hypnotic dubwise rhythm and bass tracks with a slippery pop melody, thin, reedy rapping, and classically arranged horns, with White adding angular guitar breaks. ★ “Beckon” commences on a rubbery funk backbeat with organs, Nigerian highlife guitars, squiggly synths, and a monotonous snare and hi~hat combo. Halfway through, it dissects itself and floats into spacewise dub with pianos and strings flitting in and out of the mix, though the backbeat remains. “Blue as My Name” is a decidedly straighter shuffle, but its horn arrangements evoke late~’60s country, as the swampy guitar bump of Creedence Clearwater Revival competes with Lee Hazelwood’s production aesthetic and Love’s loopy psychedelia. The set’s longest jam, “Where Ya Goin’ Papa,” is a mini~suite of its own at nearly nine minutes. Its Stax~cum~Muscle Shoals backbeat is the jumping~off point for an extended exploration of disco, jazz, gospel, funk, and dub, held together by Blau’s mellifluous singing and a female backing chorus adding an otherworldly dimension to the coda.
★ Despite its evocation of many source inspirations all applied in unusual ways, Out Her Space is pure Blau. He never lets his ambitious charts get in the way of his melodies, ample spaciousness, and warm multivalent textures. Add to this excellent core songwriting and inspired playing from all involved, and this date follows Introducing Karl Blau like a falling domino. All killer, no filler. ★ https://www.allmusic.com/
★ Doin’ Things the Way They Happen (Knw~Yr~Own 1997)
★ Shell Collection (Knw~Yr~Own 1997)
★ A Second Culling (Knw~Yr~Own 1999)
★ Clothes Your I’s (Knw~Yr~Own 2001)
★ Beneath Waves (K Records 2006)
★ Dance positive (Marriage Records 2007)
★ Nature’s Got Away (K Records 2008)
★ Zebra (K Records 2009)
★ Introducing Karl Blau (Raven Marching Band/Bella Union 2016)
★ Out Her Space (Bella Union 2017)_____________________________________________________________
|Karl Blau — Out Her Space (November 17, 2017)|