Palomino Steady Rocking is a collection of 4 songs loosely and/or completely written about horses that guitarist/songwriter Karen Haglof has known or imagined… and loved; a little horse sampler if you will. The EP was produced by Steve Almaas. It was recorded at Cowboy Technical Services in Greenpoint Brooklyn in 2017, engineered by Mario Viele. It was mixed at the Fidelitorium in Kernersville NC by Mitch Easter. The master was done by Scott Craggs at Old Colony Mastering in Boston, MA. It is being released September 7, to be followed by the full-length album Tobiano later in the year.
Like its predecessors, Palomino Steady Rocking revolves around Haglof’s hard-hitting yet spry, stripped-down blues-inflected playing and writing, ably supported by longtime musical ally Steve Almaas on bass and CP Roth on drums. The album is a fully-realized showcase for her masterfull fretwork, spirited singing, and impossibly catchy riffing, and finds her continuing her development as a complete creative artist in her own right – after years performing primarily as a supporting musician. Haglof says about the music in this collection:
“I love a heavy drum beat and thick deep bass. I love noise and wall of sound guitars and idiosyncratic rhythms. I love open D and fingerstyle. I love a crunchy guitar. I love sly lyrics and depth of feeling. I love a pop song and a pop groove. I love a dance groove. Does all this come through in my music? I don’t know, but I am always trying for it to come through.
“Categories are nice and tidy, but I like the intersections of the categories. Where influences spill onto one another and maybe meld into a unique creation. Crossroads. Not as tidy as the main path, maybe too much noise and too many snarls, maybe a little frustrating to navigate. But the intersections have intriguing possibilities.
“This is why I find it hard to imagine where I should categorize myself-I don’t want to do it!!! I want to add a little of this and that and put it together and see if I am satisfied with the outcome. And then find out if anyone else might think it’s good, or at least interesting; I’m always curious.”
Palomino Steady Rocking is the third release for the singer/songwriter/guitarist after many years away from the recording studio, during which Haglof earned her medical degree and joined the hematology/ oncology department of New York University Hospital where she still serves. Prior to her career in medicine, Karen had been an active participant in the much-vaunted Minneapolis indie rock scene that gave the world the Replacements, Soul Asylum and Bob Mould’s Husker Du among many others. Eventually, she left the MidWest for Manhattan and joined renowned avant-garde composer Rhys Chatham’s Ensemble, one of the city’s seminal guitar army/orchestras, leaving to join the Band of Susans with other veterans of Chatham’s crew. After serving a stint a kitchen staff at the early years of East Village institution the Great Jones Café (and creating its legendary brunch menu), she entered medical school and didn’t seriously pick up a guitar for decades.
The impetus for making music again came from two directions. The first was the untimely passing of Karen’s friend and mentor Jeff Hill, an old friend in Minneapolis who Karen calls “my first real guitar instructor and inspiration. We had kept in touch and he was encouraging about playing, and also picking up old interests beyond a workaholic medical career. His death was a huge blow.” Later that same year, Karen caught the music documentary It Might Get Loud at an East Village theater. “The old Jimmy Page and The Edge footage brought back all the early excitement about playing. I hadn’t kept up with rock or guitar music at all, and seeing Jack White was a bit of a revelation. I felt like I wanted to play again.” Karen says: “I [now] work in a field where very often I have to deliver bad news to people who thought they had more time to do all they’d planned. If you think you want to do something, you’d better do it now.”
Her first two releases Western Holiday and Perseverance and Grace were heralded by outlets like NPR’s All Things Considered, Guitar Girl Magazine, and Popdose among many others. The new EP and the Tobiano album are sure to win her even more fans!
Tobiano is a full-length release of 10 songs written and recorded in 2016 and 2017, during sessions for Palomino Steady Rocking, using the same players and facilities as, but with some additional guests on several songs.