Peter Karp & Sue Foley,
He Said, She Said
(Blind Pig, 2010)

Some background: When Peter Karp and Sue Foley, both accomplished roots and blues artists, began exchanging emails and letters, they were at first discussing the things they had in common: the loneliness of the road, being away from their homes and families and their love of music. Over a period of time, though, the correspondence grew into something quite different as the singers delved into more personal and deeper ideas. Finally, an album's worth of songs grew out of the correspondence. After road-testing the songs on tour, they went into the studio and made this duet album.

And, Lord, am I glad they did.

Although she made her reputation on a Telecaster, on this set Foley plays acoustic, using both nylon- and steel-stringed guitars, while Karp plays primarily electric and slide. On a couple of cuts, they play acoustic duets. Their styles, instrumentally and vocally, complement each other well, and they sound as if they've been playing together for years, which is not always the case when artists join up for a one-off project.

The writing? The songs leave the immediate situations that spawned them behind; there's no "isn't life on the road a bitch?" material here. Instead they seem to explore the emotions that grew out of the correspondence and a theme emerges: the fear of losing control and going into a situation that contains the promise of as much misery and loss as it does the potential for happiness.

In "Ready for Your Love," Karp sings:

I'm gonna lose everything and I don't give a damn.
You've never seen a happier man.
In a whisper I ask, can I really trust you?
In a whisper I ask, can you trust me too?
You whisper back, We'll see baby -- we'll see what we do.

Foley's reply comes in "I'm Scared:"

I'm scared
So very scared
For so long
Seems like forever
I've wished for you.

For someone who could relieve the doubt
Could straighten me out
Even though I feel you
And the love we have to share,
I'm scared.

This is honest writing and it's characteristic of the quality of the lyrics on this album. On He Said, She Said, we have fine singing, fine playing, heartfelt lyrics cast in really nice blues tunes and a narrative that contains depth and maturity.

Can't ask for more than that.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

21 August 2010

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