2015 – Kokako
By Phillip Smith; Jan 16, 2016
Ten Miles of Bad Road , the fourth album from Portlander Karen Lovely, boasts thirteen magnificently performed original songs. Her extraordinary vocals are beautiful and lush as she delivers the blues in her own unique style. For this recording, Lovely is backed by a five-star list of LA studio musicians, of which include guitarists Johnny Lee Schell and Alan Mirikitani, pianist/organist Jim Pugh, bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson, and drummer Tony Braunagel.
I absolutely love “Company Graveyard” with its ominous bassline and anti-establishment lyrics. Lovely’s commanding vocals ring out with power and clarity, which make me immediately think of the Pretender’s Chrissie Hynde. “Better Place” is another big favorite. Schell plays this one nice and swampy. “I Want to Love You” is such a beautiful love song. Lovely’s angelic vocals softly flow as Pugh eloquently backs her up on piano. I really like the rootsy vibe to Lovely’s performance on “Low Road”. Mirikitani, guitar in hand, serves up a bit of Texas-style blues on this song while Pugh stirs a little funk into the mix with his B3.
One listen to Ten Miles of Bad Road, is all it takes to conclude that Karen Lovely is way ahead of the curve when it comes to vocal artistry and songwriting. This album is definitely one that should be heard.