Fredericksburg, VA’s Karen Jonas released a new single off her upcoming album this week, “The Last Cowboy (at the Bowling Alley)” with an accompanying video shot at her local bowling alley.
“It feels so good to get this release rolling, pandemic or not,” Jonas says.
The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams marks Jonas’ fifth studio album, out August 28 via Yellow Brick Records.
The new single follows the release of “Pink Leather Boots,” a “tale about a dusty trucker who falls in love at a strip club” with an animated video that premiered exclusively via The Bluegrass Situation.
“Tuesday,” a light-hearted song Jonas wrote about “feeling overwhelmed by grown-up responsibilities…becoming extremely overwhelmed, and going to take a nap instead.” DittyTV exclusively premiered “Tuesday” earlier this summer.
“Tuesday is a lighthearted surrender – throwing in the towel on the worst day of the week before it even starts,” Jonas says. “Instead of waking up, I lie in bed and think about driving out to California or maybe just calling an old friend, even though I know I won’t. It’s about giving up before you start and going to take a nap. The verses rely on this tight syncopated hook, and it opens up into this disco-beat swagger of a chorus that highlights the playful lyrics.”
Jonas emphasizes the importance of story telling in her upcoming album. She says that for her, story telling is central to both the lyric and the music.
“The lyrics capture little snippets of a scene, and the music captures a mood to enhance what we learn through the lyrics,” she says. “If I can’t see it in my mind, I don’t write about it.”
“For this album, I wanted to write a series of colorful stories in which very little actually happens,” Jonas continues. “I wanted to see how compelling a character could be without a lot of action. These characters all do a lot of dreaming, thinking, and planning. I love how this collection of stories highlights the way our first person narratives don’t quite line up with reality.”
A recent press releases states that the album “overlays relatable characters and circumstances with the fathomless mystery of the human condition. Astonishingly articulate and atmospheric, it turns the desert’s dichotomous sense of endless space and counterintuitive claustrophobia – both actual and imagined – into a profoundly lucid metaphor that lingers long after its final notes.”
The album also marks her first time recording with a “settled, solid band.”
“Guitarist Tim Bray and I have been playing together for 7 years now, but for this record we had the powerteam of Seths (Seth Morrissey on bass and Seth Brown on drums) to round us out,” Jonas explains. “Recording with our settled band felt much more cohesive and smooth than when we’ve hired outside players in the past.”
Jonas notes that the track “Barley Breathing” is a “slow, moody number” that she is looking forward to releasing.
“It has this surreal melancholy that really gets me,” she says.
When it comes to the album release, Jonas notes that COVID-19 has definitely had an impact. However, she says they are working towards a solution for a live performance.
“We’ll have a hometown show here in Fredericksburg at an outdoor venue, and we’re working on a DC area show, but most places just aren’t safe to be up and running yet,” she says. “So, we will definitely plan an online concert to follow up the release.”