A new country: Northwest indie hero Karl Blau channels darkness and hope in this cinematic collection of Nashville country hits from the 1960’s and 70’s, produced by Tucker Martine with performances by Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Laura Veirs, Jon Hyde, Eli Moore (Lake), Steve Moore (Earth, SunnO)))), among others.
Blau is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and DIY icon who helped turn his hometown of Anacortes, Washington, into an indie-music mecca. He has released more than 40 records in 20-odd years, many self-released in handmade packaging and mailed to subscribers, and others on iconic indie Northwest labels K and knw-yr-own. Blau has also toured and recorded for years with Laura Veirs, the Microphones, Little Wings, D+, and Earth.
Martine, known for his distinctive production work on music by My Morning Jacket, the Decembrists, and Laura Veirs, recalled first being introduced by Veirs to Blau’s early music. “I was transfixed by Karl’s voice and completely absorbed by the world of sound he had created. I felt like I had been shown one of the great hidden treasures of music.”
A few years later, Martine recorded an instrumental version of “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” the 1969 Tom T. Hall hit. Blau, whom Tucker had come to know in sessions with Laura Veirs among others, asked if he could try singing it. “By now I knew what a special artist Karl was but I had no idea what a powerful interpreter of songs he was,’ Martine says. The collaboration, pairing Karl’s deeply sonorous voice with Martine’s warm, modern arrangements, recast the Nashville hit in a new light. “He was able to communicate the essence of the song in such a moving way that we started dreaming of making a whole record based around our excitement for that collaboration.” The result was the single and, now, Introducing Karl Blau.
- Country Soul