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Adam Karch Adam Karch
Album: Moving Forward
Label: Disques Bros
Tracks: 12

Although hailing from Montreal, the hybrid acoustic blues of Adam Karch resonates with the spirit of Americana. He plays with a combination of precise fingerpicking and percussive rhythm that serves to sound both contemporary and traditional.

Adam's album 'Blueprints' was nominated for a Maple Blues Award for Acoustic Act of the Year 2014 and he continues to be inspired by blues and folk on this release.

He often plays as a Trio with Marc-Andre Drouin on bass and Bernard Deslauriers drums, who both feature on 'Moving Forward. Adam himself supplies guitar and vocals and Kim Richardson adds backing vocals, Guy Belanger harmonica and Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre, pedal steel on tracks three, six and eleven respectively.

The twelve tracks are a mix of Adam Karch originals, co writes and covers. They were recorded at Studio Tone Bender in Montreal, produced by Adam and Rene Moison and mastered by Harris Newman.

Opening song 'Seaside Venues' rolls in on a tight acoustic strum ahead of Adam's sweetly rasping vocal, which shows off both voice and guitar to great effect. Comparisons have been made previously to the work of Kelly Joe Phelps and his vocal does have a similar tonality, but also shades of Ben Harper and at other times, John Mayer. Bass and drums enter in turn to push things along but this remains essentially an acoustic song and a great showcase opener.

Bob Seger's 'Night Moves' follows and any thoughts that this had been covered enough are quickly dispelled by this signature performance. As far as I can make out, this is purely a guitar vocal take that displays Adam's playing at its best being all tight rhythm, lovely lead runs and percussive back beat. Pop in a vocal that has hints of Ray Lamontagne and all is good!

'Those Steady Lights' is more of a band offering and has a fuller country rock feel, as does 'Did You Get The Latest News' which bounces in fully warmed up and the opening line 'I can almost hear a pin drop now she's not hear anymore' is delivered in vintage John Hiatt fashion. Great song and probably my favourite on the album.

Track five, 'Somewhere In El Paso' is an instrumental that mellows things down a little but remains really interesting musically. It is tonally ambiguous and starts in courtly fashion like a slow Irish air before moving towards more traditional blues territory. This one put me in mind of the late, great, Ben Andrews.

The Keb' Mo song 'City Boy' gets the slowed down, atmospheric treatment and features a particularly fine vocal from Adam whilst 'Lil' Black Dress' brings us back into classy bar band territory.

'On A Cold Grey Sky' is another favourite of mine, featuring a fine band performance, great shuffling drums and a lovely, pleading vocal.

Warren Zevon's 'Werewolves Of London' is another cover that really shouldn't work but does so magnificently in this essentially solo guitar and vocal version.

The album draws to a close with the tight, almost Dave Matthews vibe of 'The Contract', a timeless version of 'Louis Collins' that could be Mississippi John Hurt until the sweetest of pedal steel solo's from Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre drops in. Last track 'Realize You're Mine' is s great way to end the record, back to the sweetly picked acoustic, warm husky vocals and a song that pushes and pulls beautifully.

I enjoyed this album a lot and it has a lot to recommend it. Strong original songs and some inspired covers, great performances from all involved and crystal clear recording values. The immediacy of the sound and quality of the ensemble playing hints at their stage presence and I imagine catching this lot in full flow would be a joy.

Paul Jackson