The title of his latest album has an ironic twist to it: After 20 years of swimming nicely atop the seemingly bottomless talent pool of the Pacific Northwest and creating an astonishing output of over 40 records (on his own label KLAPS, Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society), he calls his new work dryly «Introducing Karl Blau» (2016).
Together with Tucker Martine, who’s produced for Bill Frisell, Beth Orton, My Morning Jacket, The Decembrists, Neko Case and wife, Laura Veirs) this album may well be presenting a new beginning and vision of what today’s folk music can be. And where it might be headed. It centers mostly on covers of Nashville songs by Bobby Bond, Allen Reynolds, Link Wray, Alan Gibson and Townes Van Zandt and it begins with a song by Tom T. Hall «How I Got To Memphis». Far from reviving the past, the disc presents a distinct selection of country covers uncovered fresh by an extremely talented artist. Says Tucker about collaborating with Karl: «I already knew what a great artist Karl is. But I didn’t know he would show himself to be such a splendid singer and interpreter. He manages to transfer the essence of a song in the kind of touching way that inspires dreams. I was totally taken by Karl’s voice and the world of sound he created around it. It was as if I came upon an until now undiscovered musical pearl.» Says Karl about working with Tucker: «I felt like starring in a Western written and directed by Tucker and one that was telling a real story. My character moves through a dark narrative in which the light of hope is still glimmering.»
Visiting from the land of snow covered volcanos and vast seas of kelp, the mercurial Karl Blau has been called a spell caster. You’ll believe it.