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Karen Choi

Through Our Veins

Review by Gary Hill

There is a cool range of sounds here. We get everything from down home country to dreamy folk inspired modern rock. It all fits together, though. It’s almost like different angles of the same painting. There is enough variety, and the songs are strong enough, to keep it from feeling redundant or tired. Choi’s vocals sell this in some ways (they are great), but the music is strong enough to stand on its own, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Road to Tennessee

This starts with an acapella section. When the music joins, the cut is very much a down home folk meets country based number. The violin (or should I say “fiddle”) brings a lot to this. The cut gets a more powered and modern sound later, but still feels quite down home in a lot of ways.

Anywhere You Go
Although this still has a lot of old-school country in the mix, it’s definitely more modern in a lot of ways. I love the guitar soloing here, but the song in general is strong, too. This is more mainstream than the opener.
Starting more down home, this works out to something like a modern country ballad. It’s a strong cut. It’s catchy and rather dreamy.
This works to more rocking territory later, but the earlier sections are in a folk meets pop music style. There isn’t a lot of country in this number. Instead, it’s more of a pop rock tune. There are some great things going on here. This is catchy and quite tasty.
100 Year Flood
I love this song. It might be my favorite one here. It has a great country sound to it. In a lot of ways it reminds me of something Lone Justice might have done. That’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.  This is worth the price of admission all by itself.
Mississippi River Heart
In some ways the arrangement on this gets near psychedelia. There is a real dreamy, trippy quality here. Yet it’s set in a lot of folk and country style. This is another highlight for sure.
Pictures on the Wall
Modern pop rock elements leaning toward alternative are up front on this piece. Yet it still has plenty of folk and country music in the mix. It’s another strong tune, and another angle to the sound.
Kentucky Hills
This folky tune gets rocking at times. It’s still built with country in the mix, but is more mainstream than that in a lot of ways.
In the Morning
Like the opener, this one starts with no instrumentation. When the instruments join, it’s mostly percussion with a bit of bass. It feels rather jazzy. The percussion gets reinforcements as it continues. This is a very bluesy piece. More vocals come in later, bringing an almost gospel kind of thing. This is a very different tune, remaining stripped back. It rocks despite that stripped down musical arrangement. This cut makes me think of the Violent Femmes just a bit.
Can’t Forget You
The slide guitar brings the country element to this. It’s a mellower tune that lands somewhere in the vein of dreamy modern alternative pop rock beyond that instrument.
Through Our Veins
Suitably the title track seems to shine the light on the various sounds we’ve heard throughout the set. I suppose one could say that the country isn’t particularly referenced here. That said, there are still elements at play. Perhaps more than anything else, this feels like dreamy alternative rock. It’s one of the best tunes, making it a great title track and closer.
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