Key is a psychedelic warrior who uses his guitar to zap you into Dr. Strange-like nether dimensions of sound. Seriously, at least for those of us who have logged our share of inner-flight hours, it's hard to listen to Key's music without drifting into the Astral Beyond. Like Cosmic Garage, his previous CD, Tiny Sparkles is a sweet collection of Hendrixesque, Robin Troweristic excursions.
The new album starts out with a playful, slightly funkied cover of Donovan's 'Season of the Witch.' It's a trippy, effective mood setter. While his guitar works its peculiar magic, Key spins fantastic tales of UFOs evokes the aid of an old Indian warrior 'Chief Seattle' and celebrates and laments the loves he has known. THere are two major standouts here: 'Bubba's Truck' is pure, down-to-earth fun, a tongue-in-cheek portrait of a 350-pound good ol' truck drivin' boy built around a funky guitar hook. At the other end of the emotional spectrum lies 'Best Intentions' in which the singer recalls a lying girlfriend, a father who nearly worked himself to death for some unnamed company, and his own strange life: "My father, he had the best intentions/ My father, had a story to tell/My father, learned to pause on his journey/Find four-leaf clovers, pitch pennies into the wishing well."
Though each cut on Tiny Sparkles features a basic power-trio linup (Key is assisted by some of Santa Fe's finest here and several cuts feature the bass of Pete Williams and the drums of Mark Clark), the songs are varied enough that the sound never gets boring.
One helpful hint, Play It Loud!
This CD appears to be a compilation drawn from at least two of the above albums, and was given to me by former Motel Kings guitarist Steve
"Youngblood" Cooke, now to be found with his new band Honeygun.
I mention this both as a thank you to Steve, but also as a recollection of a rainy night in
Barnes when he pressed the above in my hand, mumbled something about
this guy being the third greatest player on the planet. (the other two? Don't ask!!!) Two months later I'm hooked.
This guy has presence, tone, psychedelic blues, passion raw gut emotion,
and weighs in like a latter day heavy duty Steve Miller who both blisses out like Bob Weir, and adds
a psychedelic undertow like Love's Arthur Lee. Key has teamed up like many Austin based muso's before him with the Double Trouble rhythm section. He's also added a little New Orleans courtesy of an association with producer Daniel Lanois. Listen only to the sublime version of 'Season of The Witch', on which both Dr. John and Terry Reid, via Donovan are turned inside out, and given
a guitar led psychedelic intensity that takes your breath away.
This guy eats and breathes feel, blood curdling licks, and takes no prisoners along the way.
On'Bubba's Truck' he soars
high on his slide over an incessant funky back beat. On 'Pagan Love Song', hešs in Jim Morrison mode, and hey, Why not?
This album rewrites the blues manual, tears it up and walks off with the very best elements into another stratosphere.
While resident in Austin, Key apparently used to play an in between set jam, sandwiched twixt Chris Duarte and Ian Moore.
I venture his material is way ahead of even contemporaries of their stature.
This is music for the new age, if this sounds pretentious, just tune in, drop out, and feel those psychedelic blues!
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