Karen Elson – Double Roses (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 46:36 minutes | 508 MB | Genre: Alternative, Inide
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © 1965 Records Limited
Seven years have passed since Oldham-born, Nashville-based Karen Elson released critically acclaimed debut album “The Ghost Who Walks”, a work that was notable less for its solid collection of murder ballads and blues jams than the person who produced it: the model and singer-songwriter’s then-husband Jack White. In the time since, the pair have undergone a not terribly amicable separation (though are reportedly now friends), and Elson’s musical tastes seem to have drifted away from White’s bluesy leanings and towards something more luscious and Laurel Canyon-esque. This set includes collaborations with Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), Father John Misty, Pat Sansone (Wilco), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), Laura Marling, Nate Wolcott, Paul Cartwright, and Dhani Harrison.
With Double Roses, Karen Elson proves that the seven-year wait between this album and The Ghost Who Walks was worth it. As she expands on the gift for setting a mood she displayed on her debut, she also takes her music in a more personal direction, trading theatrical murder ballads for portraits of sorrow and strength that evoke British psych-folk and Laurel Canyon singer/songwriters — as well as hints of Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks, and Mazzy Star. The album sounds huge and intimate at the same time: on “Wonder Blind,” swirling flutes, harp, and church bells heighten the introspection as Elson begins the album with a farewell that blends sorrow and fondness perfectly. Later, the sunny twang of “Call Your Name” and “A Million Stars” belies her emotional turmoil. To help her achieve this masterful blend of sounds and moods, Elson recruited an impressive roster of talent, including producer Jonathan Wilson, Father John Misty, the Black Keys’ Pat Carney, Wilco’s Pat Sansone, Dhani Harrison, and Laura Marling. While Double Roses showcases their skills, Elson’s words and voice — which has never sounded finer on “The End” — are front and center. It’s clear that she took inspiration from her entire life for these songs, not just the better-known parts of it. Though there’s plenty of poetic interpretation (particularly on the title track, which was named for a Sam Shepard poem and features a reading of it), Double Roses’ roots are deep, and deeply felt, especially on the tear-jerking finale, “Distant Shore,” where Marling’s harmonies sweetly underscore Elson’s meditations on liberation and loss. However, her steely side might be even more captivating: “Hell and High Water,” “Raven,” and “Why Am I Waiting” are some of the album’s fiercest highlights. Moments like this make Double Roses an even richer set of songs than her debut, revealing Elson as a woman who’s ready for the next chapter of her life — and an artist capable of writing it. ~ Heather Phares
01 – Wonder Blind
02 – Double Roses
03 – Call Your Name
04 – Hell and Highwater
05 – The End
06 – Raven
07 – Why Am I Waiting?
08 – Million Stars
09 – Wolf
10 – Distant Shore