When Kirsten Thien was at the crossroads, she did not take Wall Street.
“Blues is my school,” Kirsten Thein sings on “After I Left Home (Song for Buddy Guy).” She’s also a graduate of Georgetown University Business School.
Listeners of the album “Two Sides” are fortunate Thien choose the musical path. The release was celebrated Aug. 28 with an online performance from the artist’s hometown New York City.
Thien’s fifth album also will be released on vinyl in October. The recording sessions took place over a few years and concluded just as the pandemic spread through the city. High-profile artists guitarists Raul Midón and Doug MacLeod and New Orleans singers Tank and Jelly — Tarriona “Tank” Ball and Jelly Joseph – contribute to the band: bassist-producer Erik Boyd, guitarist Arthur Neilson, keyboardist Tommy Mandel and drummers Steve Holley and Alex Alexander.
The album displays Thien’s myriad styles.
“As you travel through this album, imagine you have four 45s, with an A-Side and a B-Side queued up on your record player,” Thien wrote. ”Like two sides of a coin, each pair of songs are meant to highlight the contrasts in a given experience, even while they are inextricably connected at the core.”
“Shoulda Been” opens the album and in an instant, listeners will revel is a straight-ahead blues romp with slide solos on acoustic and electric guitars and Boyd’s bass. One of the B-sides, “Say It Out Loud,” has a superb melody and it might find its way to non-blues radio programs. Thien sings in Spanish, with an assist from Midón, on “Montañas. The outstanding, eight-song album concludes with a cover, Leon Russell’s “I’d Rather Be Blind.”
Folks listening to Kirsten Thien for the first time will become lifelong fans after hearing “Two Sides.”
Label: Screen Door Records
Release: Aug. 28, 2020
Favorite songs: ‘Shoulda Been,’ ‘After I Left Home (Song for Buddy Guy)’