Jack Rose's fourth full-length, 2005's Kensington Blues is an inspired mix of styles and sounds that brings his in-person mastery down to LP scale. Kensington Blues is Jack's most diverse outing by far, with straight ragtime, heavy 12-string, and that sweet sweet Weissenborn lap guitar all checking in. Honed during endless touring in 2004, the repertoire here is delivered with maximum authority in a series of first-take performances recorded in early 2005.
"Cathedral et Chartres" and "Calais to Dover" are dense, brooding 12 string numbers, recalling the key tracks on 2004's Raag Manifestos release. "Calais" features a sequence of right hand picking furious enough to evoke a dream state ala Charlemagne Palestine's "Stumming Music." "Rappahanock River Rag" and "Flirtin' With the Undertaker" are pure syncopated ragtime, while "Kensington Blues" offers an almost regal take on the intersection of Anglo and American trad.
The epic "Now That I'm A Man Full Grown" was the signature piece of many of 2004's live shows, a display of mind-boggling slide invention that straddles the line of east and west ala "Yaman Blues" from the Opium Musick LP. In something of a surprise inclusion, Jack's take on Fahey's "Sunflower River Blues" (long a staple of Pelt and J.R. gigs but never included on a record) is subtle and expressive, with a wonderful rise and fall that perfectly accentuates Fahey's beautiful melody. LP is a new cut by John Golden, pressed by RTI, and sounds glorious. Gatefold cover.