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 2015, 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 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.
The album also testifies to Blau’s studio skills, as he captures the glimmering, humid depths of those sweltering southern influences, despite his north-western heritage. But then Blau has engineered and produced a heap of records for himself and others, often at his home in Anacortes, releasing records on Washington’s favourite indies K and Knw-Yr-Own, as well as through his own Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society subscription service. But Out Her Space comes from another place, with another story to tell.