Kara Grainger

Shiver and Sigh

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She plays slide guitar and sings soulfully, so comparisons to Bonnie Raitt are perhaps inevitable for Kara Grainger and, truth be told, they do hold some water; they share a common vernacular and some interests, grounded heavily in the blues but reaching beyond that into R&B, soul, and rock, and they're both skilled interpreters as well as accomplished songwriters. Nevertheless, a quick listen to Shiver & Sigh, Grainger's second album, will reveal the differences. Grainger isn't as flashy a guitarist as Raitt and, more importantly, she's prefers a groove that's nearly as sultry and supple as her voice. This is music that doesn't scream; it insinuates, slowly building to a boil. Grainger lays back, both as a singer and guitarist, and that restraint is alluring, as it slyly commands attention. Grainger wrote a good chunk of the album, punctuating the originals with covers of Robert Johnson's classic "Come on in My Kitchen" and Al Jackson's "Breaking Up Somebody's Home," along with several other versions of newly written soul-blues songs, and the whole thing feels of a piece: it's all slow-burning soul-blues. Grainger doesn't indulge herself -- her leads are clean and efficient, her singing never burdened with excess grace notes -- and that's why Shiver & Sigh elicits the responses of the title: everything is delivered just right, so it's easy to succumb to its cool sensuality.

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