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The King of Love

Hal Ketchum

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

The King of Love

The first review claims that the first song on this album is no good, and that's just wrong. I realize that all of this is subject to opinion, but his characterization of the song and it's placement on the album are off the mark. This is a fantastic album, and the first song is a good song. It's not the greatest song Hal has sung, but is very good. It's Hal Ketchum...he could sing a nursery rhyme and it would sound good. This is far from that, and it's silly to call it a lapse in judgement. This album is a bargain at the price listed here. If you are a Hal fan, or just a music lover, then this is definitely worth checking out.

What Country Music Should Sound Like

What an awesome CD! Hal has always been underestimated, but he continues to make each album better than the one before. "The King of Love" boasts solid country/blues acoustics, hemmed with rock 'n' roll, and laced with melody and pleasant surprises. If you're looking for glimmer and shimmer high-dollar Nashville production, don't even bother with this guy. But I highly recommend this CD to anyone who remembers what country music is supposed to feel like.

Hal Never Dissapoints!

This album is just great and there is really no bad song on here and it only costs $6 for 15 songs...a great bargain...so get it!

Biography

Born: April 9, 1953 in Greenwich, NY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Singer/songwriter/drummer Hal Ketchum was raised in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. He began drumming at age 15 and soon joined an R&B trio. At age 17, Ketchum moved to Florida and then to Texas, where he quickly got involved playing at a local dancehall and began to hone his songwriting skills. He went to Nashville in 1986 to write songs, and three years later released his debut album, Threadbare Alibis; soon after, Ketchum signed with Forerunner Music, which eventually led to...
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The King of Love, Hal Ketchum
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