KATIE BLOUNT – Dark Water (own label)

Dark WaterThere are pure and acoustic “diamonds” in Katie Blount’s new album, Dark Water. It’s a lovely listen.

Now (the great) Sandy Denny altered the opening line to her song, ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’. In the original version she sang, “Across the purple sky all the birds are leaving”. Later in Fairport, she changed it to “Across the evening sky”.

No matter. The music of Dark Water still sings “across” those “evening” and very “purple skies”. And really, these songs stop time, and they conjure the magic of singer-songwriter days of the early 70’s. Joni Mitchell comes to mind. Yeah, there’s quite a bit of Blue in these grooves. But these tunes have “rust” in their soul, too, just like Joan Baez, who once sang in her song, ‘Diamonds And Rust’, “I’ll be damned, here comes your ghost again”. And ghosts are timeless, just like any “moon that is full’. This album serenades those timeless “purple skied” moments.

The title track, ‘Dark Water’, is patient and drills a folk acoustic wormhole from the past into the here and now. The line, “We can bring back the old and conquer the new” captures the ethos of this music. This is brilliant voice and guitar-hear-a pin-drop coffeehouse stuff.

The melodies float with warm oscillations and avoid obvious folky trade winds. ‘Shadowlands’ is languid and (almost) spooky in its confessional lyric. This is gouged passion. ‘The Alchemy Of Modern Times’ is strummed folk with metaphor-fueled combustion, and sings of a world “with no more answers”. The tune echoes the songcraft of Phil Ochs and Dave Cousins. The cleverly titled ‘Tap Dancing To The Blues’ is sort of country, but once again, Katie’s voice flows like wearied melodic molasses, and does recall the beauty of (the before-mentioned) Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.

In contrast, ‘American Song’ is brisk and retells a conversation about a hurricane’s devastation. Slight percussion frames the urgent tune. It moves the songwriting from introspective insight to narrative story-telling.

Then, ‘Abandoned Love’ is really acoustic and gets into the horse-drawn ancient folk of Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day. This one, again, just stops time.

‘Theatre Café’ begins with a chord progression that glances at the magic of Nick Drake’s sublime ‘Northern Lights’. Of course, the tune takes its own melodic flight, but the Janusian duality only punctuates the title track’s “old” and ‘new” statement of folky bloodline intent.

The final songs just play really nice acoustic folk music. ‘The Lost Conversation’ is an old memory that still plays its melody long after the vinyl grooves are worn razor blade thin. A harmonica haunts that memory. And ‘Orion’ flows from some eternal folk music source. The song vibrates and sings to the always patient and very lonely stars. This is just age-old spring water stuff.

Just so you know, this is DIY folk music. And that attitude, like everything else, has come full circle into the current music milieu. So, this record sings with the beauty of those “purple’ and “evening skies” that descend every night, but also promises equal colours in any morning, like a new voice, who sings, “We can bring back the old and conquer the new”. Or, as Joan Baez once sang, “I’ll be damned here comes your ghost again”.

Let’s just say there are quite a few lovely acoustic ghosts that dance, forever and a day, within this music.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website: http://www.katieblount.com/

‘The American Song’ – official video: