May 312018
 

By Joshua Wallace

 

Butter is Karen Jonas’s third album and her first since 2016’s Country Songs.  If you’re familiar with Karen Jonas you know exactly what to expect from her third album.  She produces great country tunes with a knack for storytelling and she has improved all around on this record.  There are even moments of ragtime blues, jazz and soul to give the album an old time feel. Butter has a running theme of circuses whether it’s the circus of life or the actual circus.  Let’s dig a bit deeper into some of these tracks.

The title track of the album, “Butter” sounds like it would fit in a smoky jazz lounge room in the 1920’s complete with a full horn section.  It’s a sultry track that needs a music video to match the visuals the song creates. Another favorite is “Gospel Of The Road”. It’s a country ballad for all the vagabonds that is about living the normal life while the dream of the road lingers.  I also really like “Mama’s First Rodeo”. This pedal steel is thick on this track and it’s a good one. We all know the phrase that inspired this track and Karen Jonas does not disappoint delivering a great song based around that.

The album closes out with a trio of tracks that blend into each other for a grand finale.  “Dance With Me” is another country ballad about how rough life is and challenges the rich to “step down from your mansion and dance”.  It is filled with an optimism that quickly goes out in the next tracks. “Dance With Me” flows into “Mr. Wonka” which is a much more whimsical circus inspired tune.  It uses the Wonka character to describe someone who promises false riches with all the fake flair and pomp and circumstance that you can buy on a budget. It takes the character of this trilogy of songs into the new and strange world they find themselves in when “Mr. Wonka” continues into the final ballad of “The Circus”. Here, the character finds herself actually drawn in the circus but does not find it as appealing as it looks from the outside.  So in this trilogy of songs that are tied together, Jonas touches on the optimism one can have early on, even while dealing with hardships, the false promises of those that would try to lure you in and finally, the overall circus and how unappealing it can be to be actually in it. It is possible these 3 tracks could be touching on her feelings of the country music industry, but it’s done so in a way that leaves them open to the interpretation of the listener, which is very clever.  

Karen Jonas has delivered a great third album in Butter.  Her style is becoming familiar to her fans, yet she is expanding into new territory and sounds with this record and it works.  I have been a fan since Oklahoma Lottery and I look forward to every release. Butter is out everywhere digitally on June 1st and CDs can be ordered on Bandcamp.

Favorite Tracks : Butter, Gospel Of The Road, Mama’s First Rodeo, Dance With Me, Mr. Wonka, The Circus

Karen Jonas – Butter (2018)

  1. Yellow Brick Road
  2. My Sweet Arsonist
  3. Butter
  4. Gospel Of The Road
  5. Kamikaze Love
  6. Oh Icarus
  7. Mama’s First Rodeo
  8. Dance With Me
  9. Mr. Wonka
  10. The Circus

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