Karen Jonas. The Restless.

On her sixth album release Karen Jonas nudges further from the upbeat honky tonk and country sounds which populated her earlier albums. Much as on her last release, the four song EP Summer Songs, Jonas’ song writing here was informed by her time spent writing a book of poems, Gumball, which she has described as a “cathartic and confessional” experience.  The songs have a gloss to them with Jonas’ regular band (guitarist Tim Bray, bassist and co-producer Seth Morrissey, drummer Seth Brown and multi-instrumentalist Jay Starling) gelling perfectly whether it be on the dark melodrama of Rock The Boat (with its shades of Calexico), the pummel and bustle of classic LA rock on Paris Breeze or the louché Parisian swing of That’s Not My Dream Couch.

With the band in such fine fettle, Jonas delivers a set of songs which, in the main, revolve around love, love lost and regret. There are trysts in Paris on two of the songs, Paris Breeze coming across as quite exhilarating while Elegantly Wasted is more of a comedown, the sparkle now more of a memory. Whether Lay Me Down pertains to these Parisian affairs is moot but on this powerful song Jonas delivers an intimate portrait of a woman unsure as to whether she is just “a casual romance” while We Could Be Lovers is like a daydream with Jonas wondering if she and her protagonist should “Be lovers or maybe just friends.” That she sings in it such a seductive fashion and with lyrics such as “Is it getting hot in here or is it just you, tell me what a nice girl is supposed to do, take off my sweater, are you getting warmer too” leads one to conclude that  she is taking the lead here. It’s a wonderful song with both Jonas’ delivery and the slide guitar reminding one of Maria Muldaur.

There are some sassy southern soul licks on the tale of a stalkerish love struck belle on The Breakdown and an excellent and endearing love song in Forever, perfectly played on acoustic guitar and Dobro. But Jonas keeps the best to the last when she embarks on Throw Me To Wolves, a remarkable slice of country rock in which she comes across as an electrified Dolly Parton while the band sound as hot and sweaty as Waylon Jennings’ crew on Lonesome, On’ry and Mean.



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