(02 September 2012) Karney shows an ear for poetic phrasings that encapsulate the impact of socio-political themes that are often as unsettling as they are urgent. This is true of her 2011 A Beautiful Day EP, whose tracks have been incorporated into her latest full-length album Love and Respect (Left Angle Records / A-K Karney Music (USA), 2012). Her latest work builds on her 2001 Karney debut album and the All Connected (Left Angle Records (USA), 2004) follow up. Karney's 2002 "My Little Bush" reggae style single from the All Connected album also drew critical acclaim.
Karney has addressed such topics as young war victims, the unreasonably harsh penalties enforced on those violating marijuana prohibition, global warming, and outsourcing and its affects on workers. Her heavy lyrical themes are balanced out by winsome rhythms and some lighter fare that veers away from the political into more personal musings on life's small pains and pleasures, along with the occasional wry wink at unvarnished sexuality.
Written by Anna K Karney, Love and Respect is comprised of ten varied tracks. Karney (vocals, guitar, keys) is accompanied by a talented ensemble that includes: Jeff Herrera (drums); Kim Manoleus (bass); Mike Doyle (guitar); Karl Perazzo (congas, shaker, caxixi); and husband Bill Ortiz (trumpet). We especially appreciated the arrangements and fine mixing of Karney's vocal work.
There are several common threads running through Karney's musical creations, whether they involve her funky indie rock band, her singer-songwriter outings with only a guitar, her compositions for video games and other commercial clients, or her work with a variety of name brand artists and bands. Karney's music has always contained elements of solid musicianship based on diverse influences, a knack for writing appealing and energetic songs, and the benefits of frequent collaboration with top artists.
The strength of Karney's voice is evident from the new album's opening title track. Listen for the glistening trumpet solo and especially warm backing harmonies in the gentle rocker. Mid-tempo ballads like "A Beautfiful Day" and "Not Lost" feature Karney's lead vocal and layered harmonies alongside electric and acoustic guitar arrangements. Listen for Karney's sensitive and delicate vocal delivery.
Upbeat accessible tracks also grace Karney's new album. We especially liked "Hold On" whose warm sound exhibits Americana influences and "Across The Planet," whose harmonies were most reminiscent of October Project. "Snake Oil Salesman" is clearly the most progressive style track on the album. Layers of Karney's vocals soar above the crunching electric guitars.
The stunning track "Wild Green" is most reminiscent of 70s psychodelic rock combining eastern influences and sounds of Jefferson Airplane at times. The similarly influenced even Beatlesque sound of "Eternity" contributes to the album's great diversity. The rousing chorus and an excellent acoustic guitar solo are certain to draw listeners' attention.
The album's standout is a southwest influenced track (think Santana) called "Aurora." Karney's clear lead vocal work soars above acoustic and electric guitar and robust rhythm section. Harmonies add texture especially in the chorus and echo parts of Karney's stunning lead.
Love and Respect concludes with a stunning remake of "On My Knees," a track that originally appeared on her debut album. Her stunningly clear vocal work on the especially tender ballad is backed with both acoustic and electric guitar. Listen for the sharp contrast and power of her voice in the chorus as it builds towards the song's crescendo.
The use of dynamic changes, unusual instrumentation, and poetic lyrics has gained Karney considerable attention since she set out on her solo recording career. CMJ Music Monthly, Relix, the Stranger, and Zero have all profiled Karney in recent issues while her tours reach increasingly larger audiences along with fans tuning in from far-flung locales thanks to web simulcasts of several recent shows. Low tech indie rock fans have been able to keep up with Karney through radio play on numerous stations.
Stream Karney's new album at her BandCamp page. This is a great multi-faceted album that grows listen after listen. Visitors that
appreciate fine songwriting, a vibrant live sound, and lyrics
that enjoy female vocals and don't shy away from harsh realities have been getting on board as Karney's growing musical enterprise gathers steam.