KENSINGTON BLUES (2016 reissue)
Kensington Blues' is the fourth full-length release from Jack Rose and his most diverse outing by far.
The album is an inspired mix of styles and sounds, 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; “Rappahanock River Rag” and “Flirtin’ with the Undertaker” are pure syncopated ragtime; the epic “Now That I’m a Man Full Grown” was the signature piece of many live shows, a display of mind-boggling slide invention that straddles the line of East and West à la “Yaman Blues” from the Opium Musick LP. In something of a surprise inclusion, Rose’s take on John Fahey’s “Sunflower River Blues” (long a staple of Pelt and solo gigs but never included on a record) is subtle and expressive, with a wonderful rise and fall that perfectly accentuates Fahey’s beautiful melody. “While the new century’s novel folk has already seen significant definition, Rose is largely alone in talking new century ideas with the old language.... Kensington Blues is derivative and at the same time nearly brilliant. 8.0.” —Pitchfork