Living with Your Ghost reaches the top 10 of the Billboard Blues Album charts !!.. The title track "Living with Your Ghost" also is in the top 100 of the Americana radio chart
Vent Magazine -Patrick O'Heffernen,
Blues from down under? Who knew? I didn’t, but when I hear Kara Grainger’s new album Living Your Ghost, I was sold. A solid album – 12 tracks, and every track addictive. No filler, no easy outs, no compromises. Living With A Ghost shows the tremendous growth of an already super-talented artist and wall-to-wall extraordinary music.
Kara put her heart and soul into each song and it shows. She kicks off with the title track’s acoustic downbeat and big guitar sound that takes you through a deep-in-your-heart journey with a slide guitar and wailing electric lighting up the road signs. But once you are there, she turns you right around and takes you back in “Working My Way Back Home”, her urgent voice highlighted by B-3 sharps and more big, big guitar blues notes. “Man With A Soul”, written with Trevor Manear, dips into country blues with a danceable backbeat and in-your-face vocals with a touch of seduction and Grainger’s glowing guitar riffs.
Things lighten up with “Nowhere to Be Found” and “You Are in New Orleans” which take us to the country blues/Americana side of Granger. The most intriguing song on the album is “Reason to be my Verse”, self-aware in the lyrics and a gentle heart tug in the melodies – except for the curl in her Down Under voice that keeps the tension just below the surface as the melody soars toward the final verse. My favorite is “Favorite Sin”, written with Julia King and guitarist/producer Anders Osborne, a song that starts out with an almost punk high energy down-low strum and shifts into a rollicking, dance-inducing blues-rock powerhouse. Listen on earphones with a long flexible cord and lots of space around your body.
“Nobody But You” brings us back down to introspection and love, motivated by J. J. Johnson’s precise delicate drumming, then morphs into the equally romantic but more beat-centric “Love Will Get You Through the Door”. Easily the most addictive song on a very habit-forming album. The song follows blues-rock form but Grainger’s determined yet feminine voice pulls you in to each verse and her restrained guitar pyrotechnics at the end of the lines keeps you there. Wow!
Grainger leaves you wondering and vibrating with the final track, “Freedom Song”, her slide guitar creating a mysterious environment that swirls like dark smoke as she conjures the freedom to come and go as she pleases, even in love. If she hadn’t told me differently, I would swear she sold her soul to the devil at a country crossroads to summon the guitar spirits that inhabit this song.
Jim Hynes… Making a Scene
Australian Kara Grainger has graced the international blues and roots circuit for a decade now. Originally hailed as mostly a guitar slinger, for her adept picking and slide skills, Grainger proves to be a formidable singer-songwriter on this, her fourth album. Her sultry vocals combined with her incendiary guitar playing is on full display on the opening title track but as the album unfolds she renders some tender ballads and infectious roots material too.
Around a year ago Grainger headed to Wire studios in Austin TX to make this album, co-produced by Grammy Award winner Anders Osborne whose guitar and vocals are all over the record. The album was engineered by Grammy winner Stuart Sullivan. Suffice it to say, Grainger wasn’t fooling around. Additionally, a top-notch band supports with Ivan Neville on keys, J.J. Johnson on drums, Dave Monsey on bass, as well as the Texas Horns.
Grainger described the music this way, “The music is going to be as diverse as ever. A little bit of blues, folk… some personal introspective songs, some funk and some rock ‘n roll.” Osborne, in turn, had this to say about Grainger, “I love Kara’s voice! She has that rare quality that evokes a distant warm memory and connects you with her personally as well as musically. A fantastic guitar player and beautiful songs! A treat to work with.” Grainger wrote six of the dozen songs herself, four with Osborne, one with Trevor Manear and another, “Broken Record” from another co-writer team.
Thematically Grainger reflects on the past as you may glean from the title track as well as “Nowhere to be Found.” “Working My Way Back Home” talks about love and life on the road as a traveling musician. Even at a relatively young age, Grainger has played almost everywhere, including India, as one of the first blues artists to play that country. Two of the Osborne co-writes have the flavor of home town, NOLA – “You’re in New Orleans” and “Groove Train.”
One of the album’s stinger songs is the John Hiatt like ballad penned by Grainger, “Reason to My Verse.” This kind of tune showcases her wonderful vocals, as she’s backed by keyboards and tasteful guitar. Her penned “Nobody But You” is done at a similar tempo, offering a break between the two rocking collaborations with Osborne, “Favorite Sin” and “Love Will Get You Through the Door.” She concludes with her six minute “Freedom Song,” punctuated by reverberating slide and sustained notes that just seem to linger around her bluesy wail.
Grainger has always been worth the listen for her guitar chops and siren-like voice. This one has some great songs, making it her strongest album yet.
- Jim Hynes… Making a Scene