Knipp brings to Americana what Shakira does to pop: incredible versatility and an unforgettable, distinctive vocal delivery. Her music is sure to be a hit with fans of Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Rait and Amy Winehouse alike. Although her original sound defies labels, the songs on this record often cross into the same bluesy realm of Americana that artists such as Anderson East occupy. Although “The Well” was recorded in Knipp’s home state of California, Cajun and Mississippi Delta influences come through loud and clear. It’s very much the “gumbo pot of crossover blues” Knipp promised.
From the moment you hear the guitar player plug in, “Sad-Eyed Lover'' is off and running. This opening track just oozes attitude -- it’s much more biting than the title would lead you to believe. It gives first-times listeners a great overview of the intricate, lively orchestration that undergirds the bulk of Knipp’s work. Though the ode to a pitiful ex packs all the punch of a grand finale, “The Well'' runs deeper still.
“Soul, soul, soul. Lots of mood and good lyrics. Very distinct vocal, tons of character and sincerity, great energy from all in the band with earthy tones and minimalistic approach, but just the right amount of notes. Ya. Do it. I think ‘Sad-Eyed Lover’ is my fave.” - (Gabe Nelson, Cake)
Knipp slows it down for the next tune: a downtempo waltz entitled “The Gospel of Good Intentions.” It introduces the softer side of her otherwise sassy persona. Complete with horn swells and mellow slide guitar, this track proves that Knipp has mastered the art of subtlety. It’s said to be a favorite of accomplished touring keyboardist Lewis Stephens.
In “Better Me,” Knipp temporarily turns away from the full-band arrangements that pervade the rest of the EP in favor of bare-bones minimalism. Though the power of her soulful voice alone is more than enough to carry the song, the accompaniment of a gospel choir in the bridge somehow manages to push this effort to explore even more stylistic territory.
It is only after these three gems that we arrive at the lead single; it does not disappoint. “Chamomile and Cocaine” is an apt description of the duality of Knipp’s talent. As everything leading up to this track demonstrates, this two-time SAMMIE Award winner has the chops to make music that’s as soothing as it is addictive.
“Bullet Train” is the perfect conclusion to this hard-hitting set of songs. Relatively gentle but driving nonetheless, it captures the wistfulness of the nascent stages of a relationship. It’s guaranteed to leave you wishing “The Well” had not yet run dry.
Given her degree of involvement in its creation (Knipp wrote, co-produced and played keys and dobro on this release), the strength of “The Well'' is truly a testament to Knipp’s artistic prowess. If this EP is any indication of what’s to come, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for what this legend-in-the-making has in store.