Karen Savoca,
Here We Go
(Alcove Music, 1999)

Dangerous. This CD should come with a sticker: "Warning! This record can be hazardous!" It makes you forget the things you're supposed to do all day long. You put the CD into the player and summer arrives out of nowhere. Then Karen Savoca starts to sing and her voice glides through the songs. And that is when you start melting away for sure.

Here We Go is Savoca's fourth CD. This one was recorded at her home studio, a renovated old church in upstate New York. And that is maybe part of the magic, too. There's a lot of quietness here, giving the music time and space to develop and breathe. It's music that shuts you up, as if it were a sacrilege to even whisper until the very last note has left the loudspeakers. Still, there is nothing fragile about Savoca's voice. It purrs like a wild cat, it glows like the the polar light, always with taste and grace. She is only too aware of the diamond that is hidden beneath her skin. There doesn't seem to be a single moment when she's not in control of even the slightest movement of her vocal chords.

In a way you could call this a lazy record -- other musicians might feel the need to fill up the music, put in more riffs, more instruments, more of everything. But for Savoca less is more. One needs talent and self-confidence for this -- two things she has in abundance.

Her style includes great pop sensibilities with slight overtones of jazz, funk and blues. The music that comes with the voice is the perfect companion. Savoca handles percussion and occasionally plays the acoustic guitar, piano and clavinet. Her partner and co-producer, Pete Heitzman, plays mandolin, guitars and bass on a few tracks. They are ably helped out by T-Bone Wolk, who is responsible for the bass most of the time and for the wonderful accordion on two tracks. Only one of the songs includes a drum kit, so the whole sound remains mainly acoustic. The beauty of the sound lies in the fact that it doesn't try to outshine Savoca's voice. The music follows the path of the vocals closely, thus creating a unity full of grace.

Bitter and sweet things in life seem to be the topics Savoca are most concerned about. Sometimes she's tongue in cheek, as in "In Conversation," about a guy who's unwilling to grow up and take responsibilty, or sometimes sad and full of melancholy as in "Rain on a Tin Roof," which is about one of those days when the bad weather is the equivalent of one's state of mind. "Same All Over" manages to be funny and serious at the same time, about people who, being people, do exactly the opposite of what they should be doing: ''You drink coffee when you need to sleep / Give away the things you meant to keep / You hang your clothes out just before the rain.''

Karen Savoca can inspire awe among other musicians as well as fans, and this CD should help her to make the next step, from a musician's musician to an artist stored deeply within the minds of people with a knack for music with a certain something extra. It's Karen Savoca time, let the spell begin.

[ by Michael Gasser ]

Visit Karen Savoca's Web site.