Walk Through the Fire
Mark Karan, who’s spent much of the past decade as lead guitarist for Bob Weir’s band RatDog, has effectively stepped into the spotlight for his first solo project, Walk Through the Fire. Drawing on his musical worldview of blues, rock and Cajun, Karan has produced a package that inspires and satisfies without bonking one over the head with sonic force. Instead the record charms the listener with superior instrumentation and lyrical wisdom. That’s not to say the CD lacks energy. Though there’s a general pace here of rock ’n’ roll maturity, many tracks, bolstered by Karan’s open-ended jamming, would get crowds up and dancing on the live circuit. In addition to fine Karan originals, the disc contains fresh adaptations of songs by Randy Newman, Robert Johnson, Joe Jackson and The Grateful Dead. Karan has plenty of help on the disc from Delaney Bramlett, Little Feat’s Bill Payne, The Persuasions and Wally Ingram, as well as Bay Area chums Pete Sears, John Molo and the Rowan Brothers. Royalties from the title track, a deeply personal song written during Karan’s treatments for throat cancer in 2007, go to the Oral Cancer Foundation.