It’s no secret that Karen Jonas is one of my favorite country artists; I’ve talked about how well she harnessed the alt and honky-tonk sounds in her two previous albums, peppering them with a healthy helping of strong female protagonists. With ‘Butter’ I knew the recipe would have a more personal feel, but what I was not prepared for was the genre-defying sound that would present itself throughout the album. Karen and crew took something that was working very well and bulked it up, making it even better than before, something I wasn’t sure was possible.
I pre-ordered and to say that I enjoy this album would be an understatement; so much so that I waited two weeks to write this, mostly because I wanted to really listen to it several times and be sure I wasn’t coming across as a super-fan who was going to like it regardless.
I really enjoy seeing an artist spread their wings and not feel locked into a certain style. Karen and friends took everything that worked well and added a few ingredients to create an album that straddles the lines of several genres. This hopscotch act creates something that can be appreciated by a wide audience, shows many influences, and evokes a mature sound.
One of the hallmarks of Karen’s music has been the strong leading ladies featured in the songs; on ‘Butter’ we still have edgy heroines, but they are a bit more of a personal characterization now, allowing the listener to feel closer to Karen than ever before. That personal side shows, not only in the lyrics, but in her voice as well; she has never sounded so real.
It’s kind of funny how many not-so-subtle jabs at certain snake oil salesman can be found if you listen. The quality of this album (Recorded at night, after the little ones went to bed) proves that Karen and crew don’t need anyone’s help to produce a quality product; they are certainly growing and honing their craft just fine on their own.
This album deserves a top-to-bottom listen, but my hands-down favorite has to be “Kamikaze Love” with its spooky undertones at start, its gradual build, and subsequent ease-out. My number two is going to be “Oh Icarus”, perhaps because it reminds me a bit of “Suicide Sal” with horns. “Mama’s First Rodeo” is number 3 with its unapologetic lyrics and honky tonk vibes. The rest are also top-notch and I suspect my favorites list will move around a bit the more I listen.
“Just like Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I Pity the fool’”… who doesn’t give this album a listen.
Karen and Tim are making their way up to NYC next month, which is a bit too far for me to drive, but if they ever make it to New England I’ll be in the front row throwing my Manzere (Or is it a bro?) on stage.