Kirsten Thien,
Solo Live from the Meisenfrei Blues Club
(Screen Door, 2013)

New York blues artist Kirsten Thien presents this live show from a club in Bremen, Germany. Playing along, just her voice and guitar, Thien sets up a nice rapport with the appreciative audience and runs through a set of originals and a bunch of covers.

Thien, whom I had not previously heard, has a strong bluesy voice that reminds me more of contemporary New York City clubs than traditional blues bars in the heartlands in the days. That's not a knock, though; it simply shows that Thien is who she is instead of an imitator. Her acoustic guitar playing is serviceable and her songwriting is pretty good. The woman's got a lot going for her and gives the promise of much more.

It's on the covers that she shines, though. Her version of Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" brings out all the blues in the song, while Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around & Fell in Love" is world-class.

If there's a drawback to the disc, it's that it's a solo show, just Thien and her guitar. She's not a gifted enough guitarist to keep it interesting for a full set by herself. Maybe if you were in the club listening, it might have a greater impact, but on a CD something more is needed. That something more would be a full band.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

7 June 2014

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