Monday, December 9, 2013

Please, Gramble on.

Kicking this thing off with a local artist (a rising local legend), and her band of bluesy Gramblers just feels right.

Nicki Bluhm sounds like the product of another time. Or at least the product of a long lifetime of listening and absorbing and witnessing. Her voice is a blend of pure soul, blues, folk, and a whole lot of distinct nuance that manifests as stunning, seasoned harmony. 

After releasing a debut solo album in 2008, Bluhm hooked up with childhood friend Deren Ney, and shortly thereafter Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers was born. The band includes: Deren Ney (guitar), Steve Adams (bass), Mike Curry (drums), and often Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips on keyboard and/or guitar. Their self titled album dropped in August.

From top to bottom the music coasts—each track effortlessly transitions to the next, and variance rules.  The single, “Little Too Late,” is all country laced blues a la “Jolene” meets JJ Cale. Track two, “Hey Stranger,” lets its hair down and turns out that thick, harmonious folk.  From there the album glides cleanly between these three rich, intertwined genres. Track nine, “Check Your Head,” is unhurried and ardent like a ballad should be, but with back up harmony that shoves Bluhm’s sweet, raspy tone to another level. 

The whole thing is just good. It’s the sort of record you’ll play year round until it’s so scuffed up it’s unrecognizable. It should also be mentioned that the Van Sessions (available on YouTube), which catapulted this group into an action packed cross country tour, are not to be missed.  Also, see them live. Their show will restore a piece of earthy, tuneful heart you didn’t know needed restoring.

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