Karen Lawrence review…July 29, 2018…

KAREN LAWRENCE

AND BLUE BY NATURE

BEST OF…LIVE!

HOSTEL RECORDS

FUN AND GAMES–I HAD IT ALL WRONG–ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MILE–YOU GOT A WAY ABOUT YOU–I’LL GET ALONG ALRIGHT–YOU’VE GOT ME WORKIIN’–IT’S BEEN SO LONG–IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU

The comparisons are inevitable with an artist the caliber of Karen Lawrence.  A music performer since the age of nine, Karen has fronted New Wave bands going back to the Nineties, but seems to have found her calling as a blues singer.  A double-CD of live material from 1998, entitled “Live By The Lake” was described by critics back in those days as “a bit on the wearing side.”  Cue up the rhythm guitarist from that set, Fred Hostetler.  He hand-picked and edited the original versions of the songs to make them, perhaps, more “critic-friendly, with Robbie Cribbs aiding in the remastering process.  The results are the eight vibrant cuts that comprise Karen Lawrence And Blue By Nature with “Best Of…Live!”

The cuts showcase Karen’s spot-on writing skills as she tackles life, love, relationships, and being female in a “good ole boys”-dominated industry.  Her vocals will immediately call to mind Joplin, Tina Turner, and Bonnie Bramlett from my generation, and the likes of Dana Fuchs in today’s contemporary arena, and they are emotion-packed and as powerful as they come.

Up first is a monster love ballad, where an uncaring lover is only playing “Fun And Games” with her emotions.  Rick Dufay is all over the wah-wah and lead guitar of the ultra-funky story that finds our heroine unable to “wait to play the field,” but, sadly, soon finds out, “I Had It All Wrong.”

Karen offers up a couple of cool, female-empowerment anthems that served as our favorites.  Set over a roadhouse-rockin’ arrangement, she tells off a lover who’s up to no good that “you can leave me flat, I’ll Get Along Alright!”  Then, Karen and Rick, (on that killer slide guitar!), strike a Delaney and Bonnie groove on “You’ve Got Me Workin’, like a fool for you!”

If any flaws did ever exist in the original versions of these songs, Fred and Robbie buried them—deep.  They left us with eight stunning recordings that define an ebullient, fun-loving, lover-of-life singer, Karen Lawrence And Blue By Nature, with “Best Of…Live!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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