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December 2018 / January 2019
Review

Karen Elson - Double Roses

A wonderful elegy to Elson’s home and her love of music.
Karen Elson - Double Roses
Published: 4:10 pm, April 06, 2017
A wonderful elegy to Elson’s home and her love of music.

Label: 1965 Records
Released: 7th April 2017
Rating: ★★★★

It’s been a long time since Karen Elson released a record, seven years in fact since her Jack White produced debut, 'The Ghost Who Walks'. The break is understandable though as, well, she has a lot on. Constantly in demand as one of the world’s most recognisable models as well as the small matter of bringing up her two children, releasing music has taken a back burner for Elson.

The record that has finally emerged though, ‘Double Roses’, is a sublime and beautifully considered work that represents how deeply and tenderly Elson thinks about music and her songs. It took a long time to get into the right emotional frame of mind to write these songs and find the right collaborators. The result is well worth the wait.

Produced with Jonathan Wilson in Los Angeles, the album is built around pastoral and beatific folk songs that wind and weave their way around intricate and bewitching melodies. See, for example, the fluttering glossolalia of the title track. Or the woodwind adorned melancholia of opening track ‘Wonderblind’.

The album features numerous guests and collaborators but they are always sympathetic accompaniments to Elson’s songs rather than show stealing turns. Among others Father John Misty plays drums on the yearning country waltz of ‘Million Stars’ while The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney produces and appears on the ambitious symphonic tinged ‘Call My Name’. Elsewhere, Laura Marling turns up on the stunning closing track ‘Desert Shore’.

There’s a lot to take in here. The last seven years of Elson’s life and her relationship with her English home and roots are represented in these vivid, heartfelt reflections. Nashville is where Elson has made her career and her base but England is where her heart is and where her musical passion was forged. ‘Double Roses’ is a wonderful elegy to Elson’s home and her love of music. Martyn Young

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