Release Date: May 25, 2010
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Country-Rock, Indie Folk
Record label: XL Recordings
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Though The Ghost Who Walks is Karen Elson's debut album, she isn’t exactly a musical newcomer -- even if it might seem that way to those who know her as the model who married the White Stripes' Jack White. With previous projects ranging from the political cabaret of the Citizens’ Band to the garage punk tantrums of Mildred and the Mice, Elson has her share of musical experience, but with such wide-ranging credits, it was anyone’s guess what her own album would sound like. On The Ghost Who Walks, she runs the gamut from chilly murder ballads with British roots to Nashville twang, giving old-timey folk and modern rock the same intensity and singing of shipwrecks, stolen lovers, and storms with a beguiling mournfulness.
Karen Elson is in a tough spot. Not your average singer-songwriter, she is both supermodel and wife to Jack White of the White Stripes, Dead Weather, and Raconteurs. As the story goes, Elson, who's written and performed for several years with the Citizens Band cabaret troupe in New York, had written a heap of songs on her own. White coaxed out a few, enjoyed what was probably his eighth or ninth eureka moment that day, and rounded up a war party to take into his Third Man studio in Nashville.
International supermodel. Wife of Jack White. Yes, it’s tempting to dismiss [a]Karen Elson[/a]’s debut as an exercise in nepotism and brand-stretching. Unfortunately it’s still quite tempting even after you’ve heard it. There’s plenty to suggest that Elson is merely another unremarkable ….
With her blazing red hair, alabaster skin, and shaved eyebrows, Karen Elson was a remarkable presence in glossy ads and fashion spreads throughout the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Stating that a model’s looks are “unconventional” to the fashion industry norm, however, usually provokes a few eye rolls. Unconventional or no, even left of center models still meet otherworldly height and weight requirements.
Karen Elson's debut certainly doesn't fight shy of inviting cynicism. She is a supermodel turned musician. Her band includes husband Jack White (producing and on drums), members of My Morning Jacket and the Dead Weather, and even Jackson – son of Patti and Fred "Sonic" – Smith on guitar. The sleeve features them posing painstakingly in retro outfits with vintage musical equipment.
I’m trying to think of a parallel, or at least an album that could help to set the scene, not just for the introduction to Karen Elson, but to help describe what she is trying to communicate on record. The best example I could come up with is Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis. Stay with me on this…. Karen Elson, born in and raised in Oldham, picked up by a modelling agency aged 16, lives the jet set lifestyle, samples many different cultures, meets a love interest, love interest happens to be Jack White, settles down with Mr White, decides to release an album.
Appealing solo debut from Jack White’s model wife and friends. Mike Diver 2010 A complaint-cum-observation surrounding the ascendance of certain musicians is that it’s not what you know but who you do that counts. This is, mostly, nonsense: few artists attain wide exposure without some ability, be it innate or imposed upon them through conditioning.
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