Nashville-based songstress, Karen Elson, has gifted us with her long-awaited second album Double Roses. It’s been seven years since her debut album The Ghost Who Walks and in that time, Elson’s sound has blossomed into an angelic soundscape thick with boundless sections of hypnotic, instrumental daydreaming and crowned with her rich, dazzling voice.
The 10-track album is sprinkled with lush harps, soaring strings, bluesy organs and hints of flute and harpsicord, creating a cacophony of wonder. It doesn’t succumb to orchestral grandeur however, as a sense of restraint allows the tracks to remain grounded in Elson’s folk roots, albeit with a crisper, cleaner sound.
This restraint allows Elson’s poetic storytelling to remain at the forefront, as she tells of heartbreak and regret with images of dark waters, scorched earth and tear-stained pillows. Such literary influence is clear with the title of the album being taken from a Sam Shepard poem about England, Elson’s birthplace, the verse of which she incorporated into the title track as spoken word.
The final track ‘Distant Shore’, which is also the first single from the album, is more parred-back, but no less magical. It features just piano and acoustic guitar underneath Elson’s voice, which is later joined by Laura Marling’s pure, whimsical harmonies. Marling is just one of many talented collaborators on Double Roses, also including the likes of Father John Misty, Pat Carney (The Black Keys), Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes) and many more.
With the vulnerability of a spited angel, Elson sings “I am alone, I am free.” Of writing Double Roses, Elson shared a similar feeling, “At the end of writing the album I felt liberated. I felt free. I felt like me.” It may have been a long time coming, but this new album has allowed Elson to explore her deepest emotions and create her own unique place in the world.
Words by Hayley Franklin.