Introducing Karl Blau is a collection of Country & Western classics given a new breath of cinematic life thanks to the North-Western vocalist. Blau is an established name in his local scene, having released over 40 records in the last 20 years. Now that Bella Union have got wind of his heart-warming vocals, however, it's easy to imagine that the name might become a little more commonplace in the independent music scene this side of the Atlantic. The record sees Karl Blau pay homage to various '60s and '70s Nashville legends, and the less-well-known. Bringing in a host of friends to contribute (My Morning Jacket's Jim James and Laura Veirs to name but two), it is a record that could cement Blau's name as the voice of modern Country and Western.

Album opener 'That's How I Got To Memphis' was originally recorded as a 7" but proved to be the catalyst for the formation of the rest of the LP. A cover of the Tom T. Hall 1969 success, Blau brings added scale to an originally very simplistic track. The combination of backing vocals, additional keys, guitar and percussion with Blau's melodious and melancholic lilt make the track a cinematic gem, evoking images of Kerouacian road trips through the mid-west. It's an aesthetic in no small part thanks to producer Tucker Martine, who curates a similar feel on the likes of Don Gibson's 'Woman (Sensuous Woman)' and The Bee Gee's 'To Love Somebody'.

It Is Blau's cover of Link Wray's 'Fallin' Rain' that is the LP's finest moment, however. Extended to almost three-times the length of the original, particularly pertinent lyrics of discontent with American warmongering find a perfect home in the singer's bewitching baritone. It shimmers with an enchanting beauty that this writer at least has yet to find in any other song this year.