Karen Jonas Breaks Free on Gothic ‘Rock the Boat’ [EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE]
Karen Jonas weaves an irresistible rhythm on her new song, "Rock the Boat." It's a gothic swirl of liberation and possible menace, an inexorable pull of tides as the narrator urges us to swim against them. The track is just the first taste of her sixth album, The Restless, out on March 3.
"The record tells a story, but it isn't linear," Jonas says. "There are throughlines: this collection of dreamy, raw, romantic, and ill-fated stories. It's important to me that the songs don't judge the stories, they just dig in, leaving you to draw your own conclusions."
"Rock the Boat" sets the tone with its snarling drama and recklessness. "Sometimes it's hard to unpack where the narrator and I begin and end," Jonas reflects.
In spite of the track's intensity, it calls to mind Jonas's role model Joni Mitchell. Listening to Mitchell off her father's turntable inspired her to be a musician, and "Rock the Boat" exhibits a sense of deeply felt lyrics and world-building, much like Jonas's indirect mentor.
"I wrote 'Rock the Boat' when I was in a tough spot and feeling particularly disconnected and isolated," Jonas reveals to The Boot. "I envisioned a woman running through a forest to a river, escaping a world that doesn't understand or support her. My repetitive fingerpicking anchors the melody while the rest of the arrangement billows, crashes, and rumbles."
Listen to "Rock the Boat," which is premiering exclusively at The Boot today (Jan. 18), below:
If "Rock the Boat" feels well-crafted, that's because it and the rest of the album were recorded over an 8-month span in between tours. Jonas and her band, long-time guitarist and music partner Tim Bray, bassist and co-producer Seth Morrissey, drummer Seth Brown, and multi-instrumentalist Jay Starling want to create a dense, organic sound.
"I'm glad we took our time on this record," says Jonas. "I needed to listen and reflect. Last year I wrote a book of poems called Gumballs with the help of my best friend, editor and lyrical co-writer, Andie Burke. It was cathartic and confessional, and I wanted to bring that energy to this album. Andie, Seth Morrissey, and I worked as a team to get comfortable with these stories and bring them to life."
Jonas and her band, who seemingly tour non-stop, were named Best Country/Americana artist by the Washington (D.C.) Area Music Awards three times, featured at SXSW and UK AmericanaFest, and nominated for an Ameripolitan Award.
You can find a complete of upcoming tour dates at Karen Jonas' official website.