Karen Lawrence and Blue By Nature – Best of Live | Album Review

Karen Lawrence and Blue By Nature – Best of Live

Hostel Records/City Hall Records


8 tracks | 34 minutes

Karen Lawrence does not disappoint on this Best of Live CD originally produced by the legendary Jack Douglas most known for producing Aerosmith and John Lennon. These tracks are from the double CD concert recorded in 1997 Live at the Lake paired down to 8 of the most requested radio friendly songs. All these songs are originals penned by her and Fred Hostetler, 2nd guitar/vocals, who also produced this CD re-mastering it at Soundtrap Studios with Robbie Cribbs. The result is a tighter set of the Janis Joplin/Tina Turner styled vocalist delivering her emotionally saturated yarns belting out the blues with high quality raspiness while the band grinds loud enough to keep up.

This CD is to be classified under: Electric Blues. It features the lead player, Rick Dufay, who is a formidable talent. His tone and crunch are springboards for single note flights of fancy worthy of any of the many Full Tilt Boogie Band riffs he has in his toolbox. He can get down and dirty with the Big Brother & The Holding Company riffs as well. Ike Turner he may not be because one has to go back a bit farther to get there. This is not Old School Blues by any stretch. Karen is in good company and to her credit she may be a bluesier version of either of the distinctive women she’s so often compared to.

Dan Potruch, a seasoned LA go-to-drummer (Keb Mo/Guitar Shorty), swings nicely and cashes in on every pounded moment solely to emphasize the vocals. Charlie Diaz, a die-hard rocking bass player, knows his way around the blues but isn’t limited by the genre. Highlights include the Jr. Walker/King Floyd groove on “I Had it All Wrong” which verges on the hard rock lying just beneath the surface. The slide guitar on “You Got Me Workin’” slashes all over the tune and Karen’s vocals go the Steve Marriott/Robert Plant route bypassing any girlishness along the way. The harmonies are great here too. The entire condensed set is delivered with straight forward professional power flawlessly.

Karen has bona fide industry credentials as the co-writer of the song “Prisoner” theme song for the movie “The Eyes of Laura Mars” performed by Barbara Streisand going 4x Platinum. She sings backup on Aerosmith’s “Get It Up” and sings and co-writes on Jeff Beck’s Beckology as well. Perhaps her most likely musical sibling is the unheralded San Francisco/Bay Area siren Lydia Pense from Cold Blood. In 1981 her New Wave outfit Karen Lawrence & The Pinz released Girls Night Out which was well received. Karen released her last studio album Hard Daze which was a more acoustic effort. Her skill and expertise was to build up the blues songs she writes so well to huge satisfying climaxes. Publicizing her Best of Live now shines a very favorable light on her.

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