Karen Nunis Blackstone, singer/songwriter, guitarist and accomplished visual artist, is from the Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia. Give Me Sanity, her first international CD release, received critical accolades from listeners in the United States, Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia.
"Karen Nunis Blackstone is the name set to carry a great deal of respect and credibility when this highly satisfying album makes its rounds...."
-Daryl Goh, The Star (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
"...a strong-voiced acoustic singer/songwriter CD, especially in standouts like ‘Out the Door’."
- Folk Roots (London, England)
On Give Me Sanity Ms. Nunis Blackstone’s powerfully resonant voice is the center attraction. Critics in the U.S. and elsewhere have often compared her vocal prowess and soulful singing to that of Janis Joplin and other classic blues singers. Having sung in her catholic church choir from an early age and then honing her chops in pub bands in Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur and later in jazz venues in Japan, Ms. Nunis Blackstone refined the talents she was blessed with, developing a style all her own.
"Brought up by her blues singer father and singing in her church choir, Karen Nunis Blackstone acquired the vocabulary which allowed her to create this powerful debut."
- Dan Grunebaum, Tokyo Metropolis (Tokyo, Japan)
At the same time, it is the songs on Give Me Sanity that also stand out, each one a poetic vignette spun within richly-textured musical arrangements. Ms. Nunis Blackstone has been credited with the musical compositions on all twelve songs, while the lyrics were written together with her creative partner, expatriate Ohioan, Brad Blackstone. The music itself has been cast in the same light as that of the Blackstones’ wide range of musical influences, from Willie Dixon and Jim Morrison to Neil Young and Bob Dylan. But Give Me Sanity is not a shoddy knock off of American folk rock. It is a fresh reinvention, fusing the idioms of rock, folk, blues, jazz and traditional Southeast Asian genres.
"The singer/songwriter isn't from Houston, New York, or Seattle — Blackstone was born in Malaysia and was living in Japan when she recorded this promising CD, but she has no problem singing or writing in English. Although Blackstone brings a wealth of blues feeling to Give Me Sanity, this isn't an album of 12-bar blues numbers. Her forte is folk-rock, but it's folk-rock that is never without the feeling of the blues. Blackstone doesn't have a soft, caressing voice — her singing is tough, gritty, and gravely — the whiskey-voiced Melissa Etheridge is among the artists who comes to mind on "Angel of Darkness," "Frickin' Truths," and other introspective material. Give Me Sanity also gives the impression that Blackstone is well aware of the contributions of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Tracy Chapman. But Blackstone is her own person and this good to excellent debut is easily recommended to anyone with a taste for introspective folk-rock."
-Alex Henderson, All Music Guide (USA)
"...a big voiced singer who has a lot to sound off about delivers a showstopper performance that simply stops you in your tracks."
-Chris Spector, Midwest Record Recap (USA)
The performances on this album are also a tour de force, with the instrumental accompaniment to Ms. Nunis Blackstone’s vocals a combination of hard-driving guitars, acoustic and electric bass, bamboo flutes, blues harps and djembe, congas, and shakers, each played by some of Southeast Asia’s most esteemed professionals. Yet while the musicianship is consistent in its excellence, and the songs all intriguing, it is the singing that takes the listener back to Give Me Sanity. Throughout the album, Karen Nunis Blackstone leads us on an eletcrifying aural journey into areas of our global village that the average listener rarely encounters.
"Give Me Sanity is great! And she is very, very good!"
-Douglas Seitsinger, KOTO 981.7 FM, (Telluride, Colorado, USA)