King of Love

The King of Love

by Hal Ketchum
     
 
The 15 songs Hal Ketchum wrote or co-wrote for The King of Love are typically well observed dispatches from the heart front in which the artist's sense of humor, plucky attitude, and endearing sensitivity are on ample display. Always comfortable with a lilting country love song, Ketchum shows off his authoritative command of R&B, roots rock, and folk styles as

Overview

The 15 songs Hal Ketchum wrote or co-wrote for The King of Love are typically well observed dispatches from the heart front in which the artist's sense of humor, plucky attitude, and endearing sensitivity are on ample display. Always comfortable with a lilting country love song, Ketchum shows off his authoritative command of R&B, roots rock, and folk styles as well. His interpretive performances are masterful on "God Makes Stars," a tender account of all-consuming love, and "The Carpenter's Way," a plainspoken tribute to hardworking hands set amid a roiling tempest of country and rock and featuring a guest shot from Guy Clark; but his ventures deeper into foreign soil are absolutely wondrous. On the up-tempo side, "Run Loretta Run" gets a funky groove going, with a female gospel-style chorus shouting refrains as Ketchum belts out a warning to a love-blinded gal who needs to turn tail on an ungrateful man; the title song steals the beat from "Bo Diddley"/"She's the One" and raises hell with twanging guitars and propulsive organ runs, while Ketchum brags about his irresistible appeal to the distaff side. In a contemporary country vein that Ketchum's fans will recognize as his classic style -- a steady, pulsing rhythm, ringing guitars, and plaintive pedal steel lines -- "As Long as You Love Me" finds his distinctive singing voice at its warmest and most subtly nuanced, with the coup de grace provided by the stunning Jonell Mosser, who enters with a diva-like sense of entitlement and earthy back-country twang, in counterpoint to her crooning male partner: It's a love song for the ages. As for Hal Ketchum, long live the king!

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
One has to ask why in the name of heaven Hal Ketchum allowed "Everytime I Look in Your Eyes" to be the opening track on his first album in two years. Perhaps it was a concession to Curb, or he had a momentary lapse of reason. Whatever the reason, it's one of the most unlistenable, sugary sweet, slicker than schlock excuses for a song to be heard in close to a decade. It's the only track here Ketchum didn't write or co-write, and it wasn't picked as the first single (thank God), so what the hell? Luckily, the 14 other songs here are substantially better. Ketchum produced this album (all but that cursed track) and did a fine job. It's a lot more polished than his Austin material, but the songs themselves are inspired, the arrangements are spare enough to let the subtle emotion in his voice come through the grain in the music, and the performances themselves are solid. Standout tracks include "As Long as You Love Me," a duet with the inimitably brilliant Jonell Mosser, and the title track, with its Bo Diddley shuffle done on acoustic guitars with a snarling electric in the background before it explodes into a pure roots rock extravaganza. The old R&B roots of Ketchum's New York past come through in "On Her Own Time," a stunning vocal performance. The B-sharp in the background shimmering above the guitars is a particularly nice touch. The passion in Ketchum's voice, with Mosser in the background, cracks the track wide open and what spills out is a truth that both singer and listener can believe in. The evidence here suggests -- as it does on his other recordings -- that Ketchum couldn't write a bad song if he tried. His work is fine; there are no extra words cluttering up his stories, no overblown phrases and rambling ellipses. The bluesy shuffle in "Takin' My Time" and the near funky "The Way She Loves Me" are nice twists that might have been better served if he employed Austin's Archangels to back him instead of his own band, but they're still fine cuts. Guy Clark makes an appropriate appearance on "The Carpenter's Way"; given his own penchant for tools and woodworking, it's a waltz full of dobro and fiddles and bouzouki. The hippest track here, "Evangeline," a co-write with Charlie Daniels, has echoes of Bob Dylan's "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," but digs deeper into the blues with backing vocals by Tim O'Brien. The fretless bassline and bodhran in "Skies Over Dublin" make a simple country song into a gorgeous pop tune, with its shape-shifting lines and atmospherics. It's as if Daniel Lanois were producing Celine Dion. In sum, Ketchum has given listeners a fine example of where he's at as a songwriter and proves himself as a producer, as this is a solid work -- other than the one offending moment (why didn't he place it last?). The King of Love is a fine outing, full of passion, verve, soul, and honesty.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/25/2003
Label:
Curb Mod Afw
UPC:
0715187876026
catalogNumber:
78760
Rank:
218972

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Hal Ketchum   Primary Artist,Guitar
Guy Clark   Vocals
Keith Carper   Bass
Bill Cooley   Guitar,Bazouki
Jonell Mosser   Background Vocals
Tim O'Brien   Fiddle,Mandolin,Background Vocals,Bazouki
Russ Pahl   Banjo,Dobro,Guitar,Steel Guitar
Glen Caruba   Percussion,Drums
Chris Kent   Bass

Technical Credits

Hal Ketchum   Producer
Michael Lloyd   Arranger,Producer
Steve Marcantonio   Engineer
Dusty Micale   Arranger
Tony Palacios   Engineer
Franke Previte   Arranger
Craig White   Engineer
Bob Kearney   Engineer
Keith Heffner   Arranger,Programming

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