Kat Danser- One Eye Open review

Kat Danser One Eye Open BlackHenMusic.com KatDanser.com

Edmonton-based, award-winning songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, and all-around force-of-nature Kat Danser returns with a wide-ranging and sometimes swinging collection of electrifying blues music. Previously reviewed HERE and HERE.

Danser covers much of what we have come to know as the blues spectrum, and—as she characteristically does —extends herself into broader Americana (and beyond) territory. Self-written standouts include “Way I Like It Done” (“I got opinions about situations that don’t concern me at all; I wish I remembered them just now but I got the menopause recall” is just one of her self-deprecating rejoinders) and the slow-burning, Lucinda-esque “Lonely & the Dragon.” A playful interlude is provided by “Bring It With You When You Come,” reminding us of “They’re Red Hot.”

The ten songs have a full-sound, with arrangements varied encompassing a horn section of Jerry Cook, Dominic Conway, and Malcolm Aiken, and a few numbers embrace Cuba influence, while “Frenchman Street Shake” (no surprise) and “Train Wreck” pass through the Crescent City. The alt.gospel “Get Right Church,” a Mississippian, Jessie Mae Hemphill number, fires on all cylinders- challenging and bold.

“End of Days” also has more than a bit of church contained, with Kevin McKendree’s organ dripping notes of reverence, as does Danser’s impassioned vocal. “One Eye Closed” is a blast of unabashed blues-fired punk, attacking societal ills over a churning rhythm that wouldn’t be out of place in the eras of X-Ray Spex or SNFU, whereas “Please, Don’t Cry” recalls the angst-filled crooning of Patsy Cline. And that voice: holy bejeebers- Danser makes you sit up and listen; she is just the best.

Producer Steve Dawson provides guitar throughout the album, with Danser limiting herself to ‘guitar grooves’ with the versatile and ubiquitous Gary Craig laying out percussive rhythms alongside bassist Jeremy Holmes. A product of the pandemic, recorded remotely (Danser in Edmonton, musicians elsewhere, Dawson in Nashville) there is nothing within One Eye Open’s forty minutes that sounds sterile or unnatural; this cohesiveness is testament to the trust and skill demonstrated by all involved.

Already a chart-topper at the mighty CKUA, One Eye Open is the second amazeballs album to come out of Edmonton so far in 2021, following Maria Dunn’s Joyful Banner Blazing. Another brilliant sampling of blues stylings from a veteran who continually enhances her niche within the genre.

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