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Two Blue - Only Two (2015)
Artist: Two Blue
Title Of Album: Only Two
Year Of Release: 2015
Genre: Acoustic Blues
Label: Two Blue
Format: MP3
Quality: 320 kbps, 44.1 Khz
Total Time: 35:50
Total Size: 83 Mb
Covers: Front

01. Hide Away (4:05)
02. 21St Century Blues (2:36)
03. Back To You (3:04)
04. Wait A Minute (2:27)
05. If Time Could Tell (4:22)
06. It's Gotta Be My Looks (3:47)
07. I Hear You Bangin' (3:30)
08. Oui Ou Non (3:39)
09. Blue Too (0:27)
10. My Love Is Alive (4:31)
11. Recycled Love (3:15)

Could singer Karimah and guitarist Robert Walsh already be on a winning streak?

They have only been acquainted a year or so, but the duo known as Two Blue is going places, literally.

It started when a DJ suggested Karimah enter Edmonton French-song contest Polyfonik. She won, and went on to win the wider western Canadian competition Chant ‘Ouest last September.

Walsh happened to be producing those events and worked with all the contestants. When he considered entering the Edmonton Blues Society’s Memphis Bound Blues Challenge he decided to keep it small and simple, inviting Karimah to join him for a blues duo.

Something clicked. After rehearsing a mix of new material and a few classics they made it through three rounds of the EBS competition to take the prize in the solo/duo category in October.

Next week, Two Blue heads to Memphis, Tenn. to represent Alberta in the 31st annual International Blues Challenge Jan. 20-24.

Whatever happens there, they’ve laid the foundation for an exceptional new collaboration that plumbs various shades of the blues tradition, captured on Two Blue’s debut album Only Two.

Walsh produced the tracks, while Karimah sorted out the cover graphics and their photo shoot. They were expecting to have the finished CD in time for two shows this weekend, but it will also be available via iTunes and their website.

For an album put together over a matter of weeks, Only Two offers a striking range of songs and styles, weight and humour, avoiding genre clichés. Walsh wrote or co-wrote nine of the 10 songs, and the duo’s first experiment in co-writing Back To You bodes well for future collaborations. A cover of Gary Wright’s My Love Is Alive makes for a tangy closer to the disc.

Contrasting with up-to-date lyrical themes, Walsh’s often intricate acoustic guitar lends an early rural blues feel to most tracks. When they do go electric — on tunes such as Wait A Minute — it’s with taste, urgency and tempered power. His occasional vocal and her percussion add some nice touches too. As one of the judges for the EBS Memphis Bound Finals in October, it’s nice to have my first impressions ably confirmed.

Across the CD, it’s Karimah’s voice that is the most riveting factor — a wonderful, malleable, soulful force that demands to be heard. The Edmonton native (born Karimah Marshall) picked up guitar at 16 after years of piano, and started a rock band (Noisy Colours) a couple of years later. After completing her degree in human ecology at the University of Alberta, she chose to focus on solo efforts, and her extended schooling in French immersion helped when she entered the competition that got her the Chant ‘Ouest trophy (a national competition is still to come later this year).

Just 26, she considered a career in clothing and textiles before her musical interests started to take off. Calling herself “an MTV kid” with tastes that run from punk to soul, she admits to a particular fondness for groove-bound sounds.

Walsh is a generation older, a seasoned musician-singer who started on French horn and finished with a degree in jazz guitar from McGill University in hometown Montreal. A stint in the new-wave X Men took him to Toronto for a decade before he moved here in 1996. His wide experience includes work in varied genres and bands like Allez ‘Ouest, teaching songwriting and more in the music program at MacEwan University, and appearances with the ESO when their arrangements call for a guitarist. His role as musical director of the French song contest for about a decade now also led to producing recordings for singers such as Andrea Menard.

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