Cameron Blake With Strings: LIVE

“Blake develops another dimension of his sound in Cameron Blake with Strings: Live. Having already used tasteful string arrangements on his latest collection, this is not so much an exploration as an expansion of his sound. It also serves to introduce listeners to work from his previous album En Route. From that disc, “The Love Song Never Died” is the highlight of this album, as the complex song structure lends itself beautifully to the emotionally powerful crescendo that the strings afford it.

The depressing “Hudson Line” is made all the more poignant by the inclusion of strings, as well. Even more impressive than the arrangements is the success with which the recording is pulled off. Rarely do the strings get whiny, and Blake’s voice is steady as a rock. The only misstep is the 8-minute string piece “Hymn,” which is marked as “by Geoff Knorr.” It’s about 5 minutes too long and bears absolutely no connection to the rest of the work. Other than that, the album is a triumph.

Both albums show off Blake’s lyrical power and ease in his own skin. With his distinctive voice, memorable songwriting and that easy showman’s touch, Blake could go very far. I would love to see him support Josh Ritter or another songwriter of that caliber sometime soon. Highly recommended.”

-Stephen Carradini (Independent Clauses)

 

“Despite a lot of overlap in the songs, Live with Strings is a distinct experience. Here, the folk influence tends to take a back seat to Blake’s classical and pop/rock influences. It was recorded at An Die Musik, an excellent listening room. The sound of a big wooden room, in fact, complements Blake’s music so well that many live tracks end up being superior to the studio versions. The live versions of “Hide and Go Seek” and “Never Taught Much” in particular benefit from the more prominent string section and truly excellent violin playing. The traditional tune Blake takes on here is “Moonshiner,” which one of the more exciting vocal takes between the two discs. But “Where the Blossoms Fall” is the jewel of this album—a pristine, heartfelt performance.”

-Jon Patton (Driftwood Magazine)