Karen Elson has announced her sophomore album Double Roses, out on April 7th, 2017 via H.O.T Records Ltd. Today, Elson is streaming the first song from the album, titled "Distant Shore" which features Benmont Tench on keys and Laura Marling on backing vocals. Stream the track now below!
Double Roses was recorded in Los Angeles, at the world-renowned United Studios (neé Ocean Way) in Hollywood, with producer Jonathan Wilson (Jackson Browne, Father John Misty, Conor Oberst). Elson, who had been writing and demoing songs throughout her recording hiatus of the past few years, spent three weeks in Los Angeles working with Wilson to put the album together. A long time fan of the sun soaked sounds of the 'Laurel Canyon' era, it was the perfect place to commit her songs to tape. The album features collaborations with an array of musical talent, including The Black Keys' Pat Carney, Father John Misty, Laura Marling, Benmont Tench, Pat Sansone (Wilco), Nate Wolcott (Bright Eyes), Paul Cartwright and Dhani Harrison
Although it's been almost seven years since Elson last released a full length record - the Jack White-produced debut The Ghost Who Walks - she continued to work on a variety of musical projects over the years. Her appearances were infrequent but always dazzling, from performing "Ashes To Ashes" with Michael Stipe at the David Bowie tribute concert last year, to dueting with Ren Harvieu on the stunning single 'The Train Song', performing for T Bone Burnett's Speaking Clock Review, recording a haunting version of Lyle Lovett's 'If I Had A Boat' for the "Still Alice" movie soundtrack or releasing limited edition covers of Lou Reed or Jackson C Frank songs for Record Store Day.
Growing up in a gritty industrial town in the North of England, music was Elson's first love and refuge, but it was the fashion industry which gave her the escape she was seeking. Plucked off the streets of Manchester as a sixteen year old schoolgirl, her rise to internationally recognized supermodel came early; she has been gracing magazine covers, and working with the most respected designers and photographers in the world for over two decades. Elson, who grew up in a musical household and learned guitar as a teenager, kept her songwriting a secret, even from her friends, until she was in her mid-20s. Her first public performances were as part of the New York City-based politically minded cabaret troupe The Citizens Band. The Ghost Who Walks was written almost entirely from the confines of her bedroom closet where she retreated from her family to write in secret,but Double Roses wasn't such a covert creation. Longing to write and record again, but consumed with parenting two young children and continually in demand by what she affectionately calls "the day job," it took a few years to find the necessary time, perfect collaborators, and the strength of character to go as deep as she needed to delve into her own psyche to create her second album.
"I wrote maybe six songs but I'm very instinctual as a person and I knew that there was one puzzle piece missing that I hadn't tapped into the deepest part myself. I knew I needed to pull that out if I was going to make the record I needed to make." The turning point was "Distant Shore", and after that the floodgates were open, and things she'd kept bottled up for years began pouring out, detailing the emotional geography of her heart, always hovering somewhere between uncertainty and regret, without truly landing on either. But in the end finding out who she really was as a person. "At the end of the writing the album I felt liberated. I felt free. I felt like me," says Elson.
The title Double Roses is taken from a Sam Shepard poem that appears in his journal collection Motel Chronicles. Emotionally struck by the poem, and its reference to England, Elson incorporated the verse as spoken word into the title track and sought Shephard's permission to do so - sending a letter to him via her friend and bandmate Jackson Smith's mother, the poet/musician Patti Smith.