Magnificent Heart Peter Karp’s tenth new album was released on May 8th on Rose Cottage Records. This album features twelve tracks of Karp’s soulful voice and mature stylistic mix of traditional blues, Americana, gospel and rock influenced by the British invasion of the ’60s.
The album showcases his original songs inspired by his recent experiences on the road taking you through the emotions of love and despair, secrets and disclosures, faith and compassion. Karp’s songs are enjoyed for their wonderful verse or just by sitting back and loving the sounds of guitar, organ, harps, horns, percussion and backup singers.
Written and produced by Karp, Magnificent Heart features himself on slide guitar, solo guitar, guitar, piano and vocals. Kim Wilson (harmonica), Jason Ricci (harmonica), John Ginty (B3 organ), Jim Eingher (piano and keyboard), Paul Carbonara (guitar and solo guitar), James Otis (guitar Niles Terrat (bass), Edward Williams (bass), Michael Catapano (drums/percussion), Cold City Horns (Jacob Wynne, trumpet and David Kasper, tenor sax), and Eyrn O’ree (background vocals).
A harp and a driving blues beat highlights the first track, “Sitting on the Edge of the World,” that paints a portrait of a world literally burning around him in which not even love can save him. But it’s not all is gloom and doom as it picks up from there with an apologetic yet upbeat blues number “The Letter,” about a drifter regretting words unsaid. According to the notes, he was thinking of his mother when he wrote this song.
Many of his songs have a sense of humor about the heartaches of falling in love. With a rousing full-tilt horn section, “She Breaks Her Own Heart” speaks to the downside of loving someone who gets in her own way. “Chainsaw” opens and closes with electric guitar licks simulating the sound of a chainsaw, as a cornered man is at the mercy of his sweetheart whims. A call and response choir echo the verse “I’m out on a limb and baby’s got a chainsaw.” She’s going to “cut off his family tree.”
“This World” features the sounds of a slide resonator guitar (most likely Karp’s National), an organ, and rollicking honkytonk piano with shades of Springsteen, complete with soaring backup singers. Still about love, it trends towards the spiritual with the refrain “it’s love and understanding and a little Amen; That picks us up to get back on our feet again”
There is steamy, jazzy blues side to Magnificient Heart. “Scared” explores the fears of falling in love, while “Cool Cool Thing” paints a picture of romance on a mellow evening by a lake.
“Let It Out” takes you to church with a rousing R&B shout out to his roots, in both New Jersey and the South.
Some songs strike a more serious note. “The Grave” explores secrets you will never tell anyone, with resonator guitar riffs reminiscent of “No Expectations” by the Rolling Stones. “The Last Heartbeat” is a stroll, punctuated by the pulse of a drum beginning and closing the song, speaks to the fragility of life in with the message “don’t be afraid taste the bittersweet, cause you’ll never hear the last heartbeat.”
“Going Home” winds up his journey with upbeat slide guitar and harmonica. “Face the Wind” with it’s soaring violins is the final message on how to live your life,
But when all is said and done “Compassion” embodies the spirit of the songwriter, with vocals, Hammond organ and choir reminding us that “You can pick up a guitar and try to play the blues but you’ll never feel nothing til you’re walking in another souls shoes.”
So take a walk in Peter Karp’s shoes, listening to “Magnificent Heart,” a blues album with Americana and rock n’ roll flavors.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– She Breaks Her Own Heart
– The Grave
– Let it On Out
The Big Hit
Review by Gloria Reiss