Living Blues (pp.47-48) - "BEYOND THE CROSSROADS is an inventive and buoyant collection of quality songs with great blues feeling."
Personnel: Paul Carlon (tenor saxophone); John Di Santo (baritone saxophone); Carlos Francis (trumpet); Mark Miller (trombone).
Audio Mixer: Dae Bennett.
Recording information: Bedside Studios, Winnipeg, Canada; Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ.
Photographer: Michael Wilcox.
Arranger: Paul Carlon.
There aren't many -- there may not be any -- contemporary male/female co-billed couples who both sing and contribute original songs, thus making the partnership an equal dynamic. Roots musicians Peter Karp and Sue Foley released their successful He Said, She Said song cycle in 2010, a challenging conceptual piece that examined, sometimes with excruciating intimacy, the beginnings of their professional and personal relationship in songs derived from written correspondence they sent each other over a several-years-long courtship. It was an audacious start to the duo's joint recorded career and one that set the bar pretty high. Two years and thousands of road miles later, it's encouraging to find that the couple has not only withstood the pressures of romantically linked touring musicians but has thrived creatively. Removed from the formulaic story constraint corner they painted themselves into with the previous disc, this one is both looser and more natural sounding. Karp and Foley play on the original tunes, and sing --sometimes trading verses -- on all but one instrumental. The opening upbeat shuffle "We're Gonna Make It" (not the Little Milton hit) adds a four-piece horn section and sounds as joyous as its somewhat clichéd title implies. But it sets the stage for the next 35 minutes of sharply written, energized, soul- and blues-influenced rock performed by two talents that truly complement each other. Karp's keyboards, slide guitar, and gruff yet friendly vocals power the gospel-styled title track but the twosome work best when they trade leads, singing on selections such as the swampy "Fine Love," the slow New Orleans march-inflected "At the Same Time," and the classic easy grooving R&B of "More Than I Bargained For," the latter a highlight of this terrific effort. Even the downbeat sentiments of "Blowin'" ("Lord I feel so weary/I'm ready to go down") seem downright uplifting when sung over a melody that captures a contagious, toe-tapping vibe. Karp displays his impressive boogie-woogie piano chops on the swinging, humorous, self-deprecating "You've Got a Problem" ("and it's me!" closes the chorus) and they take it down a notch on the acoustic folk-blues of "Chance of Rain." Foley's nasal yet emotive voice and Karp's raspier edge would seem to be unlikely companions but the contrasts work and even balance each other out. It helps makes this a logical, perhaps less ambitious but ultimately more organic follow-up to their revealing debut and indicates that for these two, in life and music, perhaps the best is yet to come. ~ Hal Horowitz
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