"THE DREAM IS NOW!" If you are one of the roughly 3,000 people who follow longtime Boulder musician Pete Kartsounes on Facebook, you’ve read these words nearly every day for the past year. And he has good reason for proclaiming them!
He’s spent the year taking his soulful songwriting and his talent for guitar to the moist climates of southeast Asia and Kauai in search of peace and serenity, which he found and laid down one heavily rhythmic track at a time on his new LP, "Unwind."
A versatile band master in his own right (Pete Kartsounes Band) and go to golden boy for good time jam band super groups that include the likes of Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon), Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band, and Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead) among others, Kartsounes has stepped away from those well worn bluegrassy and jamtastic Front Range grooves to explore his inner Jack Johnson.
After nearly a year of traveling with an acoustic guitar in lush landscapes under double rainbows by the sea, his body isn’t the only part of him that is sun saturated. Mastered by local sound engineer god, Gus Skinas (Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan), "Unwind" is a smooth groove comprised of the best thirteen of over thirty five songs Kartsounes penned during his time in the Kalalau Valley on Kauai.
But "Unwind" is more than just another singer songwriter project from the islands. Its rich arrangements showcase Kartsounes’s mature talents. With the help of Bob Hemenger’s “soul-full” sax, Tim Carbone’s (Railroad Earth) violin strokes, and a steady stream of djembe beats as backdrop, the tracks on "Unwind" are familial in nature but individually distinctive, each of them punctuated by Kartsounes’s versatile and precise guitar work. “Surrender” starts the album off surprisingly jazz heavy and “Memories Never End” continues this flow as track two.
“Hello, Goodbye (A Hui Hou)” nudges the album in a different direction. Its Ukulele-driven twang is downright fun and pairs well with “The Mirror Don’t Look Like It Used To.” Both are pure charm. The unstoppably upbeat “Get The Most Outta You,” the bluesy “This Is Love,” and the title track with impact “Unwind” are destined to be this project’s hit singles. They bring the body boogie.
If it were up to me, I’d chain Pete Kartsounes to bluegrass and to Boulder. Watching him own those rhythms with Bluegrass Delta Force at Oscar Blues this past month makes me mourn that fact that Boulder no longer owns this. I’m very Coloradan that way. We Colorado folk want and expect our talent to stay close and stay familiar. But Pete’s not having any of it.
Even though Boulder loves this guy (and the projects that show off his Colorado) and even though it would be tempting for Kartsounes to cozy up to that, this album isn’t about Colorado. This album is personal. At this point, Kartsounes has nothing left to prove. It’s simply time to "Unwind!"
LP and tour information available at http://www.petekmusic.com/.