Kirsten Thien: Two Sides Review

Two Sides, by New York blues rock guitarist/vocalist Kirsten Thien, is a lot of things besides what the album title might lead one to believe. The title is a theme of sorts; thoughts of polarization, consequence, or idea opposites. But each of the eight songs on her fifth album release are different and individual in their own right. There’s a lot of outright blues, blues rock, Americana, and even Latin flare going on here. But the prevailing traits throughout are Thien’s soulful vocals, guitar playing talent, and a myriad of styles in the musicianship that each member of the band adds to the whole project.

“Shoulda Been” opens the album in a gritty blues mode. Slide guitar is prevalent throughout in both rhythm and lead. Thien sings tenaciously about what should have been, or could have been, but a different road had been taken. In reality, the chosen road was a good choice for her. A graduate of Georgetown University Business School, Thien chose instead to walk proudly down a music road. The next song, “Sweet Lost And Found,” leaves the blues and enters an Americana area tantamount to that driving rhythm sound reminiscent of old Creedence Clearwater Revival. And it works that well, too! The third song, “After I Left Home,” goes back into familiar territory. It’s a gritty slow blues dedicated to her idol, Buddy Guy, one of many iconic performers she has opened for in concert. Thien belts out the lyrics with fervid emotion, yet takes a step back as Arthur Neilson cuts loose in Guy fashion. His gritty and fiery guitar licks pay true homage to the man who’s arguably king of the genre today. The rhythm section gets into a Bo Diddley style in “Say It Out Loud.” Articulate rhythm and lead on acoustic guitar highlights this one. “I Gotta Man” is a blues rocker all the way. It’s steamy and provocative, and it rocks! The diversity modifies and strengthens in “Montañas,”as she sings the lyrics in Spanish, with John Bethal adding Latin guitar flare. Thien closes the album with a nice rendition of the Leon Russell penned “I’d Rather Be Blind.”

With producer and bassist Erik Boyd, drummers Steve Holley and Alex Alexander, guitarist Arthur Neilson, keyboardist Tommy Mandel, and others, Thien’s leadership persona in Two Sides displays a woman to be taken seriously in the blues rock world of today. She’s tough, gritty, soulful, and intriguing, and holds nothing back in each powerful performance.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Shoulda Been
– Sweet Lost And Found
– After I Left Home
– I Gotta Man

The Big Hit

– I Gotta Man

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

Brian D Holland

Brian D Holland is a music journalist, author, and musician. He has written for many former and present music magazines, both online and in print, including Modern Guitars, Guitar International, Blues Review, Premier Guitar, Blues Music Magazine, EQ Magazine, Ultimate Guitar, Boston Blues Society, Blues Blast, and Blues Rock Review. He also has many short stories and a novel in publication. Brian and his wife Nancy have two grown children and one grandson.

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