Karl Culley - Stripling - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Karl Culley - Stripling

by Jim Harris Rating:8.5 Release Date:2015-04-27

Karl Culley and his unique, beautiful finger-playing technique are back on this fourth album. After his exceptional previous release, Phosphor, this one comes highly anticipated, and it certainly does not disappoint. While Karl has stripped Stripling down even further from a bass and string instrument to simply an acoustic guitar, it works on virtually all levels.

Karl has a rich and evocative voice to complement the near-perfectly executed song structures. The pacing of such gems as ‘School of the Heart’ and ‘Spinneret’, to single two out, easily fill in for the lack of other instruments. As with his previous effort, Karl’s rhythmic and sometimes manic strings fill in the spaces nicely, and the fullness of the songs conjures up not only comparisons to John Martyn and Tim Buckley, but also those 70s folksters Cat Stevens and Harry Chapin, with their dynamic strumming and revelatory lyrics. Once again, Karl’s lyrics are richly confessional and with the emotion he paints through the acoustics as in ‘Semi-Precious’ and ‘If We Were Free’, the songs linger and beg to be replayed.

Stripling is a great addition to the growing body of acoustic work that Karl Culley is building. Let’s just hope he keeps it coming.

Occasionally on Stripling, after repeated listens, I do wonder what such a rich and beautiful song like ‘Memory’s Like A Hunting Hawk’ might leap to if a full band accompaniment was added. Perhaps that might be in the musical cards for Mr Culley at some point. But if not, his albums are still an excellent addition to any alternative-folk rock collection.

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