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CD REVIEW: Karen Thurber – In a Dream
By Chip Withrow - 10/25/2005 - 02:58 PM EDT

Artist: Karen Thurber
Album: In a Dream
CD Review: Karen Thurber’s In a Dream sounds fresh and original today, but the styles she blends used to be a significant part of the popular music landscape. From the mid-‘70s through the early ‘90s, Rickie Lee Jones, Heart and Bonnie Raitt had pop radio hits, and Karen’s engaging, sophisticated mix of blues rock, jazz, and folk is in the spirit of those artists.

The first two songs, “The Wind My Friend” and “Conversation with the Moon,” show the different ends of Karen’s musical spectrum. “Wind” is a straight-ahead rocker with a catchy chorus. “Conversation” offers nice guitar interplay between her acoustic and Jeff Pevar’s jazzy electric. Karen’s wise, sultry voice stands out in both numbers.

Lyrically, both “Wind” and “Conversation” seem to be personifications of cavalier men. Much of the lyrical content of the album appears to address a shallow, self-possessed lover or former lover. The powerful, direct “Needy Love” stands out among songs with that theme because it is so electric and heavy.

“Ooh Rider” is such a cool song – a simple, passionate chorus that echoes in your head, poetic lyrics, and slippery steel guitar work from Pevar. Another great song in a similar vein is “Don’t Hesitate,” in which Karen’s vocals and Pevar’s guitar work achingly complement each other.

“Journey” is a gem – poppy and positive with a funky groove and a great message. It puts me in the same frame of mind as the Allman Brothers classic “Blue Sky,” but “Journey” has more of a bouncy feel to it.

The album closes with a couple of acoustic highlights. “Remembering” has an Eastern folk feel to it (think “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin) and haunting layered vocals. “To My Surprise” closes the set on an uplifting note, with Karen hitting some sweet high notes. The more I listen to this song, the more heartwarming I think it is.

According to her website, Karen currently performs solo. Although on In a Dream the instruments are cleanly mixed to showcase Karen’s songs, it would be interesting to hear her voice and acoustic guitar unadorned.

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