With his new album Out Her Space due for release 17th November on Bella Union, Karl Blau has today shared a new track from the album entitled “Beckon”. Collaborating alongside a number of musicians from Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb label as his backing band, the track can be heard below…
Following the album’s release Blau will be visiting these shores for a handful of shows. Dates/info below:
Thursday 30th November – LONDON – Borderline
Friday 1st December – MANCHESTER – Low Four @ Old Granada Studio
Saturday 2nd December – GLASGOW – Stereo
Sunday 3rd December – LEEDS – Brudenell Social Club
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 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.
In 2012, when Matthew E. 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 to engineer the album. The LP that came from this partnership was White’s solo album Big Inner. Having heard Blau’s own demos, White ensured that Spacebomb’s hot-to-trot backing band – centred around (now Foxygen) 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.
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.