home   site updates   review digest   reviews   featured artists   links   about us  
Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

Digest Index
Current Digest
Instrumental Digest
Give Me Sanity CD Cover
Image © 2000\r\n\r\nSongbird LLC  

(01 October 2000) Karen Nunis Blackstone is a true and freshvoice of the global village and a songwriter of deep emotion. When wefirst acquired her debut album Give Me Sanity (Songbird LLC (Japan)01-2000, 2000), we didn't know quite what to make of it, but with repeatedlistenings it has grown on Musical Discoveries editors. The artist wasborn in Malacca, in the former British colony of Malaysia, and is ofPortuguese, Ceylonese and Chinese descent. She is currently based inAkita, Japan and is an acclaimed visual artist and emerging singer songwriter.

Living the blues as a child profoundly affected Karen'sunique multi-cultural folk music; being a member of a very small minioritygroup (Malaccan Portuguese) caused her to be ignored by the Malaysian musicindustry establishment even as critics were hailing her very big voice.Being neither Malay nor Chinese, her vocal talent could not find industryacceptance in Lamalysia until she relocated to Japan with her husband,an American university lecturer and blues harp player. After honingher vocal chops singing jazz and blues on the Nihon circuit, Karen's original sound found a welcome audience at a Buddhist temple run by a former Los Angeles punk vocalist and expanded to concert halls, smoky clubs, concert halls and festivals all over Japan.

Blackstone's emotive lyrics, ear catching melodies and unique rhythms combine the best of blues, jazz and rural folk sensibilites.She was supported by guest artists that include some of Southeast Asia's top music talents and any music club pals who were glad to lend a hand during the recording process. The diverse mix of cultural influences and contemporary attitudes contributes to the listening experience.In addition to jazz and blues, we clearly heard bluegrass in the finalmix as well.

We most enjoyed the album's premier rocker "Drivin Down The Bern."Electric guitar, harmonica and percussion during the instrumental bridge seemto perfectly compliment the artist's singing style in the sectons of the songthat surround it. The gentle ballad "It's A Wonder" demonstrated the artist'svocal sensuality; the instrumental arrangements are especially complimentary.The folky flute part in "Angel Of Darkness" is highly notable contrastingthe lead vocal part perfectly. The jazzy tune "Fend For Yourself" concludesthe album with vocals effectively accompanied by various arrangements includinganother lovely flute part.

As one would expect from a Japanese release, the booklet accompanying thewell produced compact disc is lovely with complete lyrics and a couple ofnice photos of the artist. You can order Karen's album Give Me Sanityread editorial reviews and hear soundbites of every track at amazon.comhere. Worth further exploration with soundbites available online foryour personal listening experience, we found the album to be a nice listen.

last updated on: