'Still the Rain' debuts

Karen Lovely proves she can be successful as a blues shouter and a soulful blues vocalist, as heard in her recent release, "Still the Rain."

The new CD, unveiled May 18, already has the blues bigwigs buzzing. Within a week of its pre-release in April, the album hit No. 17 on the Living Blues Charts and No. 1 on Oregon Blues Roots Radio, pushing her debut album, "Lucky Girl" to No. 3.

Lovely's CD release party is set for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 21-22, at Roscoe's BBQ, 117 S. Main St., Phoenix, where she will perform several songs from the new album as well as several new numbers.

The 13-track album features originals by producer Dennis Walker and co-producer Alan Mirikitani, as well as a song by Lovely and her former keyboardist Allen Crutcher.

Lovely's career was met with almost immediate success in the blues scene beginning with her debut album, "Lucky Girl," released in November 2008. "Lucky Girl" was the No. 1 "Pick to Click" on XM Radio, No. 1 on Blues City Radio, and it debuted at No. 13 on the Living Blues Chart. Early this year, she traveled to Memphis, Tenn., where she and her Ashland-based band competed in the 2010 International Blues Challenge and took second place in the competition, which featured 111 blues bands from around the world.

However, "Still the Rain" introduces a new style of blues for Lovely and one very different from "Lucky Girl."

" 'Lucky Girl' is like a ride in a convertible with the top down, and this one is a much more mature and serious (album) for me," says Lovely.

While "Lucky Girl" featured primarily favorite blues covers, "Still the Rain" features soulful blues originals, in which the vocals are much more prominent. Lovely describes the music as having a "swampy, chiller groove."

"This (album) really shows what I can do personally as a vocalist and as a vocal interpreter," she says.

Each of the songs on the album is a small vignette, focusing on relationships. The album also takes a stand against domestic violence, something Lovely is very passionate about. The title-track, "Still the Rain," depicts a battered woman who uses a storm to fight back against her partner/abuser.

"It's almost theatrical in a sense," Lovely says. "One thing important about the blues genre is that it's very real and very immediate and that's what this story is. When the song starts the storm is inside the house. The storm outside mirrors what happens in the house."

The woman inside hears the levy break outside and must decide whether to save her abusive husband, who is in a drunken stupor, or leave him behind. She chooses the latter, says Lovely.

"When I sing a song women aren't victims," she says. "They are powerful and strong."

The band featured on the album was hand-picked by Walker and comprises Lee Spath on drums, Richard Cousins on bass, Jim Pugh on piano and B3 organ, Mirikitani on guitar and Michael Vannice on tenor saxophone.

Lovely will be opening for Taj Mahal on July 3 at Britt Fesstivals. For more information, visit www.karenlovley.com or call 541-512-1046.

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