Sequestered away in rural bliss, 90 minutes north of Seattle on the Washington state coast, Karl Blau has been making records for 20 years, but never with European distribution. So, when Bella Union released Introducing Karl Blau in 2016, it shone a belated and deserved light on "one of the great hidden treasures of music," claimed album producer Tucker Martine. But given Introducing's specific agenda – a set of gorgeous, lush cover versions drawing mostly on vintage Nashville's country-soul with Blau concentrating on his rich, reverberating voice, his latest album Out Her Space is so different that it could be titled Reintroducing Karl Blau.
Out Her Space features all Blau's own material, production and multi-instrumental skills, and forges a gorgeous, languid and hook-infested gumbo of soul, funk, some jazzy blowing and Afro-pop, to arrive somewhere else entirely. Out Her Space also testifies to Blau's studio skills, as he captures the glimmering, humid depths of those sweltering southern influences, despite his north-western heritage. The album plays with humanitarian themes, against a backdrop of self-immolating American politics. For starters, the title Out Her Space was equally inspired by Blau's, "overwhelming feeling to point out that men, in general, need to listen, to stop being so assertive and to get out of her space, let her balance again."
The opening "Poor The War Away" was written during the George W Bush era, "and it's more relevant than ever. We're steamrolling down the mountain side." "Slow Children" is a request for mankind to slow down, with a "rigid truth chorus" and "free association" verses, says Blau. The speedier "Where You Goin' Papa" also works better in 2017 than 2012, since Blau's youngest daughter is no longer a baby, and he can think about touring again – it's another reason, he says, why it was worth delaying this album. "I Got The Sounds Like You Got The Blues" addresses the same scenario – "as the family breadwinner, I'm telling my kids, don't worry, I'll be back" – while both tracks feature some mighty jazzy extemporising. Another key track is the album's country-rocking "Blue As My Name."