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Peter Karp
Shadows and Cracks
Blind Pig Records 2007

Runtime: 44:16
By Ben Cox

Attention all blues fans, this is not a blues record! I repeat, this is not a blues record! I will tell you what it really is though. It’s one of the better Americana releases Blind Pig Records (a more notable blues label) has ever given to the public. Peter Karp has been playing roots music since his early teens. Karp has enjoyed the ups and downs of his career, depending on where “Runaway” Pete would roam. He has one of the more interesting biographies. I highly recommend you find out a little about this guy before you pass judgment on him at all.

On his first international release, Karp conjures up some of the best in American music with his great wit and irony in lyrics that brings up the names of John Prine, John Hiatt, Steve Earle, and Robert Earl Keen to great jam songs reminiscent of “Brothers and Sisters” era Allman Brothers.

Karp really demonstrates his musical ability on the album by switching back and forth between guitars, harmonica, and keyboards in various forms while always giving his whiskey drenched vocals to the tracks. Don’t get me wrong blues fans, there is some blues here. “Air, Fuel, and Fire” shows us some of his West Coast Blues influence with the swing and sway that you’d hear on a Rob Piazza album (great harp, too) to the homage to his influences “Dirty Weather” with special guest Popa Chubby.

Chubby, Dennis Gruenling, and Garth Hudson round out a great cast of special guests on the album. The guests always add just a shade more of layering to Karp’s already thick sounds from his organ and very skilled guitar playing. In fact, Popa Chubby’s electric slide playing on “I Ain’t Deep” a Tom Waits-esque lyric and his electric sitar playing on the title track has shed a whole new light on one of blues-rocks great imitators of others sounds. There is no imitation in any of the work heard here, finally shedding light on some of Chubby’s truly original talent that can go a little unnoticed on some of his releases.

Like I said, blues fans, this one really ain’t all that much blues, but its worth checking out, especially if you’re a John Hiatt or a John Prine fan. This guy is the next generation singer-songwriter you probably have been waiting for.

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