home listen reviews a-z
Karen Savoca

IN THE DIRT • Karen Savoca

It's a mystery how some artists will speak to your very soul. Reach right in there, bypass your mind and touch your heart, and before you know it, you're laughing or crying, or both. That's a mystery.

It's soul power, that's what I'd call it. And Karen Savoca embodies this quality so rare. There's way more here than meets the ear. Like Susan McKeown or Leslie Ritter, what makes her one of my favorite singers has to do with who she is; you hear the magnificence of the person.

And whenever you‘re talking about Karen Savoca, you're also talking about Pete Heitzman. They are on the very short list of the greatest duos working today. Heitzman's inspired and transcendent guitar work is central to their signature sound. Pete is the best kind of guitarist for a duo that tours the world, because his approach is one that incorporates many different tones and different techniques; it makes the act bigger and better able to bridge the many styles they plumb. On this record he characteristically contributes organ, mandolin, and both play an octave mandolin that their friend and sometimes touring partner Greg Brown gave to them. Pete also records and mixes the records, and they co-produce.

On the title cut, K.S. shows her incredibly funky nature, on percussion, clavinet, and that vocal sound that's both sex and spirit, growling and whispering this listener into the submission that allows the beauty of "What Is Free" to take over. Their compadre of many years, T-Bone Wolk, is indispensable on upright and electric bass, accordion, and occasional acoustic guitar. Both guys are singing on "16 Windmills," a blues as spacious as the title implies.

Although we must do without pictures of the winsome artists on the album's packaging, the cover image is a time-stopping photo by Matthew Dae Smith. It's one of the prettiest covers we've seen in a long time. Thankfully, their website provides a satisfying photo section of the artists live and at home.

This amazing duo is a textbook case of doing it yourself. They tour relentlessly and have survived for all the right reasons. They're so good that people ask them back, and more people come next time. Many of our readers will find a new favorite act when they listen to the clips on the Listen page. Very highly recommended.  
• Frank Goodman

return to covers      listen to clips      buy it here


puremusic home