Showing posts with label karen jonas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label karen jonas. Show all posts

Thursday, June 7, 2018

video review: 'butter' by karen jonas

Okay, this is pretty great - not quite as strong as her last two, but still really enjoyable, definitely take the time to check this out!

Next up... man, I could do with some Neko Case right about now, so enjoy!

album review: 'butter' by karen jonas

I'll freely admit I'm not surprised by Karen Jonas' artistic direction in indie country. That's not to disparage said direction - beginning in the hardbitten, world-weary acoustic grit of indie country to a more relaxed and lush Bakersfield sound, all coaxed through writing that's subtle enough to emphasize the details but conveyed with the intimacy and charisma to really suck the audience in, it's a natural progression as Jonas has built up steam among critics and fans alike. And it feels comfortable - I may have been won over initially by the edge, but Jonas has avoided histrionics and it makes her brand of burnished country feel impressively sensual and mature, she's got that pure magnetism.

And thus I wasn't really surprised she was picking up elements of jazz, blues, ragtime, and barroom soul for her newest project Butter, which she herself has described as her most broad to date... but I was a bit worried. Part of this is the fact that this cross-section of sounds in indie country has been pretty saturated in the 2010s, but also because Jonas is the sort of singer-songwriter who has been at her best leveraging subtlety, so I wasn't sure if going bigger and broader would pay off - and again, I'd have a wealth of comparison points in this style for when it's done right. But hey, what did we get from Butter?

Monday, October 17, 2016

video review: 'country songs' by karen jonas

Man, I really dug this. Was considering posting this and JoJo tonight, but this album is good and underappreciated enough that I'd prefer to give it the room and appreciation it deserves.

But JoJo and Billboard BREAKDOWN coming up next, so stay tuned!

album review: 'country songs' by karen jonas

I can imagine even if you're a fan of independent country you likely won't recognize this name, especially if you're newer on this channel.

And really, that's a shame, but it's also to be expected. I found Karen Jonas effectively by accident, as her album Oklahoma Lottery was picking up some buzz among critics and pretty much nowhere else. And while I remember being startled when I covered the record in 2014, I'm not all that surprised nowadays, especially given the kind of uncompromising and occasionally bleak material that Jonas wrote. It's the sort of regional, sharp songwriter-driven music that doesn't shy away from telling hard stories, less concerned with the flash you normally see around Nashville and more with the message and presence. Sparsely produced, intense without being overbearing, textured and gritty without playing it as a gimmick, there's a reason why Oklahoma Lottery was one of my favourite albums of 2014, edging out some stiff competition to snag my year end list.

So you can bet in a year full of standout women in country, Karen Jonas' newest record Country Songs was definitely on my radar. Again, I wasn't sure if it was going to be a big breakthrough for her - her sort of grassroots following can be tough to translate, even if she did look to be stepping in with a lighter touch for this album - but hell, I wasn't going to miss this. So in a banner year for country music, how did Country Songs turn out?

Monday, April 7, 2014

video review: 'oklahoma lottery' by karen jonas

Damn, this was a welcome surprise. Seriously, check out this album, this woman deserves some real attention.

Up next... still not sure, so stay tuned!

album review: 'oklahoma lottery' by karen jonas

So here's a problem in the internet age that only critics will really complain about: with the advent of iTunes and Bandcamp, it has become very easy for a lot of music to be released independently - which, more often than not, is a very good thing, as it allows the artists to retain their unique sound and flavour and not get hammered into a marketable brand by the label system. But what it also means is that if I only covered new releases that showed up on Bandcamp and released reviews 365 days a year, I would still fall even more hopelessly behind than I already am.

As such, when an act from the independent country scene that I've never heard of starts to get some serious critical acclaim, I take notice, especially when I start to hear one of her biggest selling points is her songwriting. This takes us to Karen Jonas from Fredericksburg, Virginia and her debut album Oklahoma Lottery. Apparently, she has less of a web presence than I do - which, for an indie act building buzz, is a little startling - but then again, it's a little more excusable than mainstream country acts that have the same problem. And as always, I tempered my expectations: even though one of my top albums of the year thus far is the Texas indie country release Daylight & Dark by Jason Eady, I'm also very conscious of the fact that critics can tend to upsell indie acts that catch them by surprise. It's a natural human instinct, and sometimes it can eclipse critical thought and analysis. So with that in mind, I bought Oklahoma Lottery from Bandcamp and gave it my due: did Karen Jonas deliver?