A most rewarding pairing
Reviewed March 2010
He Said She Said
By Peter Karp and Sue Foley
Blind Pig Records: 2010
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
The kind of cross-genre stew that the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss "Raising Sand" project a few years ago only hinted at, "He Said She Said" is a wonderfully creative collaboration between blues singer/guitarist Sue Foley and alt-country singer Peter Karp that carves out a new musical space between two distinctive artists and takes both places neither would likely have gone alone.
Foley possesses one of the most immediately identifiable sounds on guitar going today, in the blues or any other style. A few notes and you know it's her playing. Karp's calling card is a rich, deep singing voice a voice that contrasts nicely with Foley's high, nasal vocals.
While their performance talents interlock nicely, what makes "He Said She Said" such a rewarding listen is the fact that they've created a sound here that's equal parts Foley's electric blues and Karp's Americana. While each wrote about half the songs here (the songs and project came out of a friendship that grew out of correspondence they maintained during recent tours, sharing throughts about life on the road, making a living as a musician, etc.), it's not as if Foley's songs are blues and Karp's alt-country. Rather, each song manages to incorporate both styles, with not a little vintage rock 'n' roll thrown in, perhaps as the common catalyst.
"Danger Lurks," written by Foley and given a haunting vocal introduction atop a Spanish-tinged acoustic guitar, is as much tango or chanson as it is blues: mostly, it's a dark salon song you might hear in a small jazz club in Lisbon or Vienna on a late midweek night, beautifully crafted and utterly unlike Foley's typical sound. It's a lovely "wow" moment.
On Karp's "Scared," Foley takes the lead vocal atop a muted trumpet reminding nothing so much as the exquisite pairing of Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker on the soundtrack to Dennis Hopper's 1990 film "The Hot Spot."
These are just two of the surprises here, and show that this album is one of those rare pairings of disparate talents that causes each to push the other into something new and delightful along the lines of Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris or the above Davis-Hooker pairing.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).