Kara Grainger: Shiver & Sigh Review

With her third release, Shiver and Sigh, singer/songwriter/guitarist Kara Grainger has put together a project that captures her original sound, which is a combination of blues, soul, folk, rock, and roots music.  Working with producer David Z, the project is very clean, and quite impressive, but at times loses its fantastic organic nature to a venial sin of overproduction.

Grainger has a fascinating story: an Australian native living out of a van and touring the beach towns of Australia moves to LA as a solo artist and impresses crowds while opening for the likes of Peter Frampton, Heart, and Buddy Guy.  Indeed, Grainger’s unique story certainly explains her unique sound.  She is not afraid to go after a more contemporary, pop type of sound, but her background is clearly the blues.  Throw in some rock ‘n’ roll, and carefree beach tunes and Grainger is anything but mainstream.

Grainger has a nice voice, brimming with soul that shines throughout the album.  Her guitar playing is pleasant: she never plays too much, but always plays tastefully, and she gets a great sound out of her slide.  She’s also assembled a top-notch band and the product stands out as distinctly professional, in the midst of a digital age full of amateur, self-produced artists.  After a nice opener in “Little Pack of Lies,” one hears the true Kara Grainger sound with “Lost in You,” gentle lines that pour forth like waves on an evening beach, a voice overflowing with soul, and a tight, crisp band anchoring it all.  “I’m Not Ready” is another similar tune, but is a little closer to a more traditional blues sound.  “Holding Out for Love” is slightly reminiscent of a Santana-type of tune, particularly with regards to Grainger’s guitar tone.  Grainger excels with the two traditional blues tracks on the album: “C’Mon in My Kitchen” and “Overdue for the Blues.”

The only fault with the album is that the production sometimes ignores the organic feel of Grainger’s music, which is what makes her a great artist in the first place. “Shiver & Sigh” would be a really nice tune if it was not as overproduced.  Similarly, “You’re the One” is a cool funk tune, but it doesn’t quite sound like Grainger’s style, though her performance is far from bad.  In all, Kara Grainger has a wonderful, unique sound, even if it is sometimes masked by a few nifty LA production tricks.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Shut Down
– Lost in You
– Holding Out for Love
– C’Mon in My Kitchen

The Big Hit

– Shut Down

Review by Nik Rodewald

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