Karen Nunis Blackstone | Dark Sun Big Rain

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World: World Beat World: Asian- Southeast Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Dark Sun Big Rain

by Karen Nunis Blackstone

noir, folk-based world beat, with a focus on vocals, driving acoustic guitars, flute and percussion....
Genre: World: World Beat
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Namahage Blues
5:06 album only
2. She's For Sale
6:33 album only
3. Civilized
4:53 album only
4. Oh My World
4:28 album only
5. Nasi Campur
3:58 album only
6. Such and Such
5:25 album only
7. When I Close My Eyes
5:01 album only
8. Blow Till I Be
6:21 album only
9. Temporary Moon
10:08 album only
10. Namahage Blues (Japanese)
5:16 album only
11. Taken Me By Storm
7:29 album only


Album Notes
Karen Nunis Blackstone is a Malaysian singer/songwriter and visual artist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore. Dark Sun Big Rain is her newly released second album. Mainly acoustic in nature, the 10 tracks on the album (plus one unlisted bonus track) reveal a melting pot of genres much like the background of the artist herself, who comes from a mixed Malaysian heritage. Born to a Malaccan Portuguese father and a Chinese/Sri Lankan mother, Karen has spent some years in Japan with her American husband & creative partner, Brad Blackstone, their daughter Billie and a fierce cat named Neo.

If all this sounds exotic, Karen would be the first to balk at the idea. As a person whose next passion after music and art is traveling, Karen is continually aware of the similarities between cultures and peoples. Apart from living in Malaysia and Japan, Karen has spent significant time in the U.S. doing road trips, hanging out in her husband’s native southern Ohio, exhibiting her art and playing music. (She was also the recipient of a fellowship from the Freeman Foundation to do her art at the Vermont Studio Center.) Karen has traveled to other parts of Asia as well, including India, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, and throughout Europe. These experiences have clearly influenced the images in her art and music.

Each song on Dark Sun Big Rain was written by Karen and Brad. One song, "Blow Till I Be," opens with an old hymn that daughter Billie sings as an intro. Karen sang this hymn in catechism class and in the church choir when she was in a convent school as a young girl. (Though schooled in Malay, Karen considers English to be her first language because that was the main one spoken at home.)

Karen’s musical influences range from Bach to Bowie, Willie Dixon to Manu Chao, and she started her career singing blues, rock and jazz with club bands in Malaysia and then Japan. Her fans have often noted that she combines a small frame with “that big voice.”

In the mid 1990s, after she started playing the guitar, she began to write her own music. Her first international release, Give Me Sanity, appeared in 2000 and garnered airplay and encouraging press in America, Europe, Southeast Asia and Japan. Since Give Me Sanity, which was hailed by allmusic.com as “a good to excellent indie debut,” Karen has been developing her poetry, rhythms and melodies into what has been described by another reviewer as “an intoxicating brew of songs.”

With Dark Sun Big Rain, Karen’s fans and new listeners alike will find her voice, guitar playing and songwriting skills in full blossom.

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Soaring vocals, moving lyrics, brilliant
In Namahage Blues, the song of a love affair between a beauty and a Japanese legendary demon, Karen’s voice soars on the dual wings of percussion and Muhar Diman’s flute playing. When Karen sings Oh My World her voice and Chris Hoskins’ violin truly convey the feeling of being spun round and round by love until you lose your breath and can only speak in whispers, sighs and gasps. Finally, Nasi Campur is with its straightforward guitar, flutes and percussion are the perfect blend of spice for the main dish of Karen’s voice. This ode to Malaysian food with its clever social commentary interwoven is one of my favorites of the whole CD. The spoken breakout of folks ordering Nasi Campur in the middle is brilliant! Shut up and eat? Yeah- and then let’s dance! There is so much more that could be said about this CD, but buy it and explore it for yourself!

John Spiri

Exquisite voice, stirring tunes
While the entire cd is excellent and varied, "Such and Such" alone is well worth the purchase price, the kind of song that makes you feel you're connecting with a magic realm. Powerful voice, artfully done cd.

Dan Castelaz, Thumbook Press

Unique voice and instrumentation woven into a new world Astral Weeks...
By the time you get to Oh My World, the fourth cut on this extraordinary collection of songs, you will be totally hooked. It's not often one comes across music that sounds totally fresh on repeated listens (Gomez comes to this reviewer's mind), but Dark Sun Big Rain certainly does. Though covering lots of philosophical ground-- including references to modern-day "masters of war" -- Ms. Blackstone is never heavy-handed. In fact, she is able to inject a healthy dose of humor, as on the cut Nasi Campur, which apparently uses that tasty Malaysian rice dish to convey a particular attitude towards life. The feisty Oh My World, with its affinity to early Luka Bloom, shows Ms. Blackstone's exceptional vocal prowress, swinging effortlessly from brassy to breathy. There is a seamless fit of voice to music here, with soaring flute, virtuoso guitars, and electric blues harmonica providing a rich backdrop for Ms. Blackstone's gorgeous treatments. Despite the title, Dark Sun Big Rain is one of the brightest and freshest new releases I've heard.


Lyrics and music fantastic!! Great vocals and a definite must buy. Awesome!
Sensitive balladia that is inspiring with a backdrop of dreamy soundscape that leaves me wanting more. It is a breath of fresh air and truly remarkable.

Paul Fisher

beautifully produced, passionately played
She sings a feisty brand of folk rock, owing more to Bob Dylan or Janis Joplin than either of her own homes of Malacca or Japan. Instead she plays a global music influenced by her surroundings and background such as the ridiculuosly catchy Namahage Blues (she lives in Akita, home to the Namahage or demon mask festival) or Nasi Campur, a homage to Malaysian food. Hers are quality, well crafted songs, often bluesy with arresting lyrics and themes that anyone, anywhere can appreciate. Acoustic guitars, bass, plus occasional Asian sounding flutes, percussion and violin, banjo, harmonica, beautifully produced, passionately played.