Perhaps “it takes just one girl to cry the blues, but a village to raise her up again” could be the fetching message from Into the Blue by Kim Doolittle, the silken-voiced vocalist from Port Hope, Nova Scotia who writes riveting songs and also plays rather good guitar as well. Miss Doolittle has milked her life in the Maritime province of Canada and has come up with eleven exquisitely-minted songs. The music is carved from rocky outcrops and hidden promontories and bursts out into brilliant sunshine after a short journey into the black and blues of the countryside, echoing with tears, laughter, and absolutely no bitterness. Miss Doolittle goes to church and makes also rings in a myriad hearty bluegrass changes.
For an idea of the quality of Into the Blue, try “Amazing Grace”. Too many performances of the classic spiritual overload its opening melody with yearning ardour, giving it nowhere further to go expressively; Kim Doolittle’s restrained and flowing account enables one to appreciate the spiritual’s theme and beauty. It is especially when the melody is repeated in subsequent verses, now played by expressive guitars and horns with voluptuous choral accompaniment does Kim Doolittle allow the redemptive gravitas to linger ever so slightly to suggest the growing passion between man and God. The luxuriant harmonic dalliances allow for a memorably ecstatic build-up, but nothing can quite prepare one for the exciting recessional; the front-loaded ferocity of the hymn’s fervour and the ferocity of its finale are equally superb.
There is much more happening on this recording. Of course Kim Doolittle always leads from the front and it is easy to do so when you have a producer behind you who knows what he is doing. So often when directing proceedings from the BIG chair, with a large ensemble at one’s disposal, a producer is apt to make an absolute dog’s breakfast of things. Not Ken Whiteley, though; the producer not only plays more instruments on this recording than anyone else, but also plays each one exceedingly well and thus provides the right tone colours for each and every song by Miss Doolittle. Moreover, Mr Whiteley makes sure his “village” of musicians makes yeoman contributions to Miss Doolittle’s oeuvre here as well.
The results are immediate and Kim Doolittle’s performances are immediate and meticulously crafted; entertaining and touching – qualities so appropriate to the original stories of friendship, love (hopelessly lost and poignantly regained), and a host of other affecting dramas of a life lived. Into the Blue is, quite simply, a beautiful little album.
Track List: 1: Into the Blue; 2: Under A Memphis Moon; 3: Let Love Be Your Goal; 4: Poor Boy (Oh My, My); 5: Let the River Run; 6: Amazing Grace; 7: A Friend in Need; 8: It Just Don’t Work Like That; 9: Long, Long Way from Here; 10: Snowball’s Day in Hell; Some Loves Never Leave.
Personnel: Kim Doolittle: vocals and acoustic guitar; Ken Whiteley: vocals, acoustic, electric and slide guitars, sitar, lap steel guitar, mandola, Hammond B3, piano and cowbell; Chris Whiteley: trumpet and harmonica; Ben Whiteley: contrabass and electric bass; Jimmy Bowskill: lead electric guitar (1, 2, 7); Suzie Vinnick: vocals, lead electric guitar (8); Bucky Berger: drums; Victor Bateman: contrabass and electric bass; Amoy Levy: background vocals; Ciceal Levy: background vocals; Pat Carey: saxophone; Radim Zenki: mandolin; John Snowden: violin.