Karen Elson

"Double Roses"

(Hot Records);

By ​Phil ​Bennett

This is Karen Elson’s second album and comes seven years and many life changes after the first, the main one being her breakup with former life and musical partner, Jack White.

It’s always hard to say how much of a record is designed to be taken literally, but there is a definite sense that this one is a soul-baring exercise and, as such, is weighted with some deep emotions that range from the wearily desolate to the softly accepting and cautiously optimistic.

Wonderblind opens the album, a splendid, splintery musing on the twists of life’s strange turns, as she declares “Hey love, it’s the end of an era”.

Along the way, Elson doesn’t “dream in my bed These days I’ll sleep alone instead” on the string laden, elegiac Call your Name while on the raw The End she concludes that “We are all guilty in this mess”.

The album closes with the gentle Distant Shore, just voices (aided by Laura Marling), piano (typically understated Benmont Tench accompaniment) and acoustic strum as she observes that her “heart feels different Shores between so distant” in a manner that is quietly confident in what lies ahead. A lovely segue way to chapter three of her story so far.

There are some marvellous sonic touches throughout – the lightly caressed harpsichord of the title track, the unexpectedly disturbing piano rumble of Hell And High Water – and Elson’s voice is an attractive distillation of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and early Nancy Sinatra, making this particular musical trip a highly enjoyable one.

A thoroughly rewarding listen, Double Roses is an excellent collection of songs that are delivered with honesty and passion.

Enchanting.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.