Karen Lovely’s latest release, Ten Miles of Bad Road, is a record of detailed heartbreak and finessed sorrow. Beginning with “Low Road,” the album establishes itself as a work of instrumental grace. With a smooth guitar sound and Lovely’s own smoky voice, “Low Road” marks the first instance of musical deliberation that is to be found throughout Ten Miles of Bad Road. “Company Graveyard” finds Lovely’s voice growing darker and deeper until, lifted from its earth-bolted tethers, her voice soars with an insistent cry for freedom. “A Better Place” is a further manifestation of this desire for freedom as the song’s speaker looks to forgo responsibility and enforced geography in exchange for a sense of kin – this song of longing and belonging flows edgelessly as the country once did before the borders of states were drawn.
“Ignorance (It Ain’t Bliss)” is a song that simultaneously rues and longs for the naiveté of the past as the song’s speaker seems to say ‘take me back to a time when you could still fool me.’ “Cross the Water” features an engaging, resonant guitar and a steadfast promise wrapped in a soothing melody while the title track, “Ten Miles of Bad Road,” finds a well-placed introduction of horns being added into the instrumental mix, lamenting ‘I should have known better” at the ruinous end of a partnership of excess, adultery, and deceit.
The common theme of Ten Miles of Bad Road is longing and regret and nowhere else is this motif more prevalent than in “I Want to Love You,” a gem of jazzy piano and missed connections that finds two long-time friends thinking of the times when it was almost more and how their current circumstance has contrived their separation from one another: Lovely’s Christine-McVie-conjuring voice perfectly sells the sexual tension and regrettable propriety that frequently characterizes such relationships.”You Stole My Heart” is an upbeat song about a charmer who takes advantage of the song’s speaker and “Always Love You” is the ever-recurring story of goodbye that turns memory into a still-breathing warmth instead of a lament.
“Blues Valentine” is a sing-song narrative of the 36-year partnership between two characters who feel like friends of Lovely’s and “Save Me” is a brief sketch of characters who have survived extreme situations and want whatever God is selling, love or forgetting: the small, good things. “I’m Over Goodbye” finds the familiar futility of wishing that all leavetakings find their place in the past and no longer loom over an uncertain future and the album closes with “Frank the Spank,” a lively, barroom tune of drinkers and drinks, and the nicknames and the stories that go along with each.
Ten Miles of Bad Road is, at times, a highly explorative album that unearths known emotional earth in the presence of familiar blues melodies. All fans of blues rock will enjoy this album, but for different reasons; the lyricism of some of the slower pieces will speak to the poetry and the heartache that founded the genre, and the imaginative guitar work will appeal to those who are looking for more than twelve-bar blues.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Low Road
– Company Graveyard
– Cross the Water
– I Want to Love You
The Big Hit
– I Want to Love You
Review by McKinnie Sizemore
Buy the album: Amazon