Tuesday, May 30, 2017
It's already been quite a year for Nashville-based singer/songwriter and supermodel Karen Elson. She released Double Roses, her second album, in April to glowing reviews, and then she was tapped by Ryan Adams to open some of the highest-profile nights on his 2017 world tour. The first of those concerts will take place here on Thursday, June 1, at 8 p.m., when Elson and Adams play the Granada Theatre.
Recorded over two months at a studio in Los Angeles, Elson's Double Roses reveals layers of nuance upon multiple listens. The record's delicate, sophisticated indie crooning comes wrapped in a pleasing mosaic of instruments and textures. Like her friend Father John Misty, who plays on the record, Elson can capture a whole mood in a few carefully chosen lines. When I spoke with her recently from her home in Nashville, she described two different approaches to songwriting — one, in which ideas “hit like lightning and your responsibility is to capture that lightning as it happens,” and another, where “you need to search for it over time and build the song piece by piece.” However she gets there, Elson delivers on what is one of the season's most effective and atmospheric releases.
As a native of Manchester, U.K. — she was born and raised in Oldham, just outside of the city — Elson was understandably crushed by the news of the recent terrorist attack there. Referring to the emotions it aroused as a “black void,” she expressed profound sorrow that “children who were seeing their favorite pop star” could become victims in a war that has nothing to do with them. As a longtime supporter of Save the Children, Elson has visited refugee camps in Syria and seen what war has done to people there and wishes that the next generation, including her own children (she has two with ex-husband Jack White), could grow up without knowing such evil.