Album Reviews

Peter Karp

Blue Flame

Artist:     Peter Karp

Album:     Blue Flame

Label:     Rose Cottage

Release Date:     2.2.2018

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This one follows just about a year later from Alabama Town and although diehard Karp fans will recognize several of these songs, they are recorded here in a new session with various star-studded guests. Like its predecessor, this one features Mick Taylor, Todd Wolfe, Paul Carbonara, and Dennis Gruenling. New guests include Dave Keyes and Kim Wilson. More than ever before, Karp displays his multi-instrumental skills handling multiple guitars, organ, piano, accordion, and harmonica. He also has a core band handling rhythm, keyboards and mandolin across his mix of blues and roots tunes – with the accent where he wants it—on his songwriting.

Karp’s eye for detail, the range of emotions, and clever sense of humor prevail. While the album may have benefitted from more new material, there are some real gems here that make this a strong effort. Listening to Mick Taylor solo on “The Turning Point” is always enjoyable. Kim Wilson takes his spot-on harp solo in “The Arson’s Match” and Dennis Gruenling’s harp colors “Your Prettiness” and “From Where I Stand,” two of the best tracks. Throughout Karp impresses with his expressive voice and passionate playing.

Karp has led a nomadic life, played with many great artists and has a well of experience to draw from. His wordplay is quite good. In fact, one of my favorite songs of his is “Dirty Weather” from his Blind Pig album Shadows and Cracks, one that I wish he would have reprised here. In any case, there’s bristling animation and energy in these baker dozen’s tunes that surpasses much of Karp’s previous work. It’s apparent immediately with Karp’s opener, “Rolling on a Log,” with its swirling B3 and Kim Wilson’s harp. The energy rarely lets up except when called for on tunes like “Valentine’s Day” and the mandolin-driven “From Where I Stand.” Karp’s personas of an amped-up bluesman and charismatic singer-songwriter are both well represented here.

—Jim Hynes

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