Karen Crusher
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Karen Crusher

Scottsdale, AZ | Established. Jan 01, 2011

Scottsdale, AZ
Established on Jan, 2011
Solo Folk Alternative

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Mar
06
Karen Crusher @ Gossip Grill

San Diego, California, United States

San Diego, California, United States

Jan
29
Karen Crusher @ Xtreme Bean Coffee Co

Tempe, Arizona, United States

Tempe, Arizona, United States

Dec
08
Karen Crusher @ R Lounge

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

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Karen Crusher – Granite – Album Review

I’ve gotta watch myself on this one and do my best to keep my objectivity here! I had the privilege of having my first encounter with Karen Crusher somewhere back in March or February of earlier this year…if memory serves me correctly we worked with her on a bio write-up – but the point being that not only did I get to know a little of Karen’s music, I also got a chance to really get to know the personality in behind the music as I researched into her life to get the facts straight for the bio. What I discovered was a truly courageous song-writer, proud supporter of the LGBTQ community and all-around fantastic human being with a real genuine ability to communicate sincerely through music and plain ol’ conversation. I dig this lady…and I’m excited to hear how these latest tunes from Karen Crusher have come out and whether the music can match the likability I find in the person that makes it.

Diving hard into her indie-folk sound, Karen finds her groove quickly with a fierce performance right out of the gate on the stomping beat of “No Way Out.” Her acoustic guitar plays at a frantic pace to open the song and is quickly matched by a stomping kick-drum beat programmed into the mix for some added punch to drive the energy at the outset of Granite. What I’m really loving above all things…is the sheer determination, passion and strong emotions you can hear through Karen’s voice; she has really kicked it up a notch in confidence and I’m loving the inventive ways of which she’s going after the vocals on “No Way Out.”

If anything…what kinda kills me a little bit, is that with a spread of diverse melodies, tempos and rhythms that you’ll find on Granite, that Karen put “Wifi” as the second cut on the album…hold on, lemme explain!

You see…here’s the thing…first of all – I absolutely LOVE “Wifi.” On a sheer personal level, I actually like it much more than the opening tune “No Way Out;” they’re both great songs I just prefer the melodic style of “Wifi,” which is why it kills me that this up-tempo indie-folk-pop GEM has such a similar beat in both sound and style! What Karen is doing on the chorus of this song is so absolutely beautiful that it’s damn near indescribable, she’s nailing the verse as well…but dear readers…what can I say other than it’s a sound in a melody like this that truly makes me incredibly proud to be one of the lucky people out there uncovering amazing independent music like this. The vocals are sweet enough to crush candy and Karen has sprung from a darker opening in “No Way Out” into the bold, bright and beautiful with “Wifi” – so WHAT if I think the similar pace & beat might have made it work better in a different order on Granite? If it’s between that and not having the song, there’s no way I’d ever leave “Wifi” off the album…this sweet love song is a must have completely and whatever order I might think it should be in can go to hell as long as I get the song!



Crusher is cruising through the beginning of Granite; as much as I loved “Wifi,” I was blown away to find I was potentially an even bigger fan of the following track “Something More.” I’m stunned by the melodies she’s discovered within the music of this song and her voice…the lyrics are some of the best I’ve heard from her with repeating lines that add such an incredible effect to the emotion she’s putting into the words. She’s got the stomping kick in place firmly – clearly a staple of Crusher’s music and no doubt essential to her pulling off these sparkling melodies in a live setting when on her own.

“Cold” sees Karen return somewhat to the more melancholy style of Granite’s opening. It definitely still has hooks, still has strong emotions running through it, but also audibly one of the tougher ones Karen wrote for herself in terms of the vocals. Overall…this would be a real tough judgement call while in the studio I think…personally I’m hearing 95% perfection here and 5% or less that might have benefitted from some of the additional harmonies she’s cleverly added in throughout “Wifi” and “Something More.” “Cold” has Karen very much alone and on her own both through the performance and the lyrics…everything is exposed; I think she’s displayed the courage and confidence necessary to make these hooks and rhythms work – just the fine tuning left to go and worrying about whether or not to go after 100% studio-production-perfection or a more real, honest & organic sound.

When I hear her sing “From What I See,” it doesn’t take anything more than this moment to know that for me, I wouldn’t have her sounding any other way than the sweet, authentic melodies that come straight from her heart and out of the strings. Another completely gorgeous melody – Crusher completely needs to clone herself so that she can be the one to harmonize along with herself when playing live…the way that she’s done this throughout Granite has been nothing short of breathtaking.

Definitely not saying she doesn’t have memorable moments when she’s on her own – she certainly does. Title-track “Granite” really allows her to shine brightly with beautiful vocals that drift sweetly right into the music into a dreamy ending and perfect set-up for the bright melody of “The Target” to follow. If I was to make a comparison for the overall sound of the album and in particular this song, I’d have to go with something like Sarah Harmer-meets-Ben Gibbard. Her melodies are sweet and gentle like Ben’s and lyrically inventive like Harmer – and the mix of these two elements is really working well for Crusher on Granite; she should be proud of the performances she’s put onto this album. “The Target” weaves through intelligent lyrics and gigantic words woven together perfectly revealing the emotion and details in the personal tale told in this tune. Some of this song is truly heartbreaking…and Karen is nailing the delivery in a way that takes you there and makes you really FEEL it.



I really dig on the nearly Zeppelin-esque opening to the guitar on “Wanderlust.” For such an isolated melancholy sound, much of this song is quite empowering through the lyrics and haunting all at the same time. While much of the album has seen a real spotlight shine on Crusher’s vocals, “Wanderlust” takes a moment to really let the guitar tones bring you into the atmosphere and really hold your attention firmly through this minimalist approach that leads to one of the most captivating moods displayed on Granite.

As Karen Crusher says “Goodbye” on her final track of nine, she takes a clever last departure through her performance akin to something like Alanis Morissette might come up with. Bending words and verses into complex combinations creating a truly poetic ending to her album, Karen has really put a large dose of confidence and has emerged as an extremely solid performer you can rely on through the music on Granite.

To wrap this up I’ll just say it plainly for you all and finish this off with one of those real ‘full-circle’ type endings… I mentioned at the beginning of the article just how much I WANTED to support Karen…that really I had the best of hope for the music I’d find on Granite…but what I can tell you here at the end of the article now that I’ve listened to the full album several times…is just how EASY it is to support music that comes out as authentically passionate as Karen has on her brand-new album. I would have had to support whomever would have written songs like these and sent them my way – it just so happens this time those songs are attached to a truly fantastic human being & extremely capable song-writer I’m proud to know and have truly heard.

Now PLEASE take a moment away from our beautiful website to go and support Karen Crusher at her official site and find out more about Granite at: http://www.karencrusher.com/ - SleepingBag Studios


It takes a lot to get “folk music” right. Even the genre is kind of a screwed-up concept; when most people say “folk music” they don’t really mean traditional folk-song music, they mean music played on an acoustic guitar. And the stereotypes run deep and harsh, from the out of touch ‘60s folkie singing about counting roads, to the Animal House “Twelfth Of Never” guitar-smash, to the humorless, agonizingly strident protest singer. What’s left out, though, is the true heart of the matter—the raw power and honesty of, say, the mighty Billy Bragg in his prime, or Frank Turner’s anthemic punk-folk, or Ani Difranco in her earliest, most daring days.

Lucky for us, then, that we’ve got Karen Crusher. Crusher’s new self-released album, Granite, is a real treat that boasts nine powerful and lovely tunes that dispense with pretense and get to the heart of things.

“No Way Out” pulses with desperation, propelled by Crusher’s chunky, rhythmic guitar style and a strong, distinctive voice that cuts like the proverbial knife. Crusher is a great storyteller and conveys the sense of being trapped, cornered, frantic and wailing. “WiFi,” if it’s even possible, is actually faster-paced, a furious tempo that contrasts nicely with the yearning wanderlust of the lyric. (Fittingly, there is an actual ballad called “Wanderlust” a little later on the album, and it’s a great one.)

The songs and musicianship on the album are top notch; Crusher’s fingerpicking is exceptional, and her voice has that haunting high-desert-lonesome one hears in voices like that of Neko Case. “The Target” is a particular treat, with its rollicking off-kilter beat and expressive, tense vocal line. It recalls In My Tribe-era 10,000 Maniacs, and I rarely mean that as a compliment but in this case, it definitely is.

Crusher is based in Scottsdale and we’re lucky to have talent like this around. It would be great to hear how this work comes alive in a live setting. Granite is well worth checking out. - Cait Brennan - Echo Magazine Arizona


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Karen Crusher has been writing and performing songs over the past fifteen-plus years in her acoustic/alt-folk style.  Currently performing and recording in Arizona, she writes songs that speak to true passion, love, heartbreak and the genuine emotions that connect us all.  With brand-new songs, this proud representative of the LGBTQ community has music-fans buzzing with excitement about the news of her upcoming recordings and releases to come in 2015.  Booking shows constantly and ready to take every aspect of her song-writing and career to the next level; Karen is outworking the rest through her hard-work, determination and genuine love of her craft.  Combined with her authentic songs, committed performances and charismatic stage-presence – Karen Crusher puts 100% of herself into her music and continues to audibly inspire people from all over the globe with her stunning relatable, memorable & captivating songs.

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