Karen Elson: The Ghost Who Walks (XL)

 |   |  1 min read

Karen Elson: Lunasa
Karen Elson: The Ghost Who Walks (XL)

As you may already know, Karen Elson from England comes with a number of black marks against her on this debut album: she was a model (and no one takes them seriously, huh?) and her husband is Jack White (Stripes).

Still, Carla Bruni made better albums than most would like to give her credit for -- and we shouldn't hold her marriage against her. In fact in this case White's cedibility is so high that you are forced to listen to this, he wouldn't waste his time on lesser talents.

That said, from the murder ballad opener, through the sudden scoure of guitar chords on The Truth is in the Dirt (very White Stripes) and the song Stolen Roses which far too closely adopts the Nick Cave/Kylie Minogue template of Where the Roses Grow, this one slightly stumbles on the catwalk than strides with confidence and originality.

There are some excellent songs here: Pretty Babies walks a line between alt.country and quirky Euro-cabaret pop; Lunasa is a minimal back-country ballad with lovely harmonies; 100 Years From Now is terrific evocation of a front parlour ballad-cum-cabaret song from the Thirties (with saw?); the elegantly simple Cruel Summer is pop-meets-rural Band . . .

Death and disembodiment, lost love and mystic strangeness abound and Elson is a fine singer -- strong, emotional and sometimes usefully distant when the words demand it. Her songs lyrics are sometimes oblique and allusive, so this gets well past the idea that this is some indulgence on her part, and you expect that next time out she might be even more interesting.

But as with models, for the moment she still seems to be wearing borrowed clothes. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride (4AD)

Co-produced by John Vanderslice, the typically opaque lyrics by John Darnielle are given space and clarity so as to bewilder and bemuse you by turns. Not many people write songs with titles like... > Read more

Various Artists: Girls With Guitars (Ace/Border)

Various Artists: Girls With Guitars (Ace/Border)

At the end of the first side of this record -- yes, it's a record, bright red vinyl too -- is a great lost classic. It is soulful belter Gail Harris from Washington state with the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Reem Kelani: Sprinting Gazelle (2006)

Reem Kelani: Sprinting Gazelle (2006)

Subtitled "Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora", this sometimes astonishing debut album remains breathtaking in its scope -- from a lullaby to a moving song of... > Read more

AND ANOTHER 10 SHAMEFUL RECORD COVERS I'M PROUD TO OWN

AND ANOTHER 10 SHAMEFUL RECORD COVERS I'M PROUD TO OWN

Further to previous confessional postings along these lines (here and here), this is another installment in albums bought on the basis of their cover art -- although "art" is perhaps far... > Read more