One of the challenges of being a musician is coming up with new content. Sometimes the best thing to do is to re-interpret previously recorded material. That is what Karen Jonas has done on her most recent album Lucky, Revisited. The idea behind this is to take songs that have lived on the road over the past five years and record them as they have evolved.
The album opens with a country feel with the honky-tonk hit “Ophelia”. The rhythm provided by E. P. Jackson (bass) and Seth Brown drums is uptempo and sure to get an audience moving. Meanwhile Jonas sings in a voice that is sweet and tough while the lyrics reference Romeo and Juliet. That is followed by Jonas’s version of the Hank Williams hit “Lovesick Blues”. This is a much different version than Hank’s and not just because it’s told from a woman’s point of view. Tim Bray injects some rock and roll into the song with his guitar part. It’s pretty fair to say that Hank never imagined the song this way, although he probably wouldn’t mind it.
As the album progresses, Jonas moves from country to the more jazzy sounds of “Lucky” and “Butter”. This version of “Butter” pretty much belongs to another time where jazz combos would dress to the nines while playing in smoky clubs.
This album also includes a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”. This particular version has the feel of a Tom Waits song. The guitar gives this version a real lonesome sound. Meanwhile the beat is so spare and muted that you really have to pay attention to notice it.
Fittingly, the album includes an ode to country songs. In what must be the story of a lot of people, she sings about how she didn’t appreciate country songs when she was younger. Then she goes on to sing that a certain someone will never understand her better than Buck Owens or Dwight Yoakam. You can almost see couples two-stepping as you listen to this one.
While the songs on this album aren’t new, they are presented in a way that makes them feel new. Jonas is clearly a talented songwriter with some stories to tell – whether she tells them in a jazzy style or an Americana style. Lucky, Revisited will be available everywhere on July 19. Order your copy here.