With three albums under her belt, four kids at home, and a touring schedule of 150+ shows per year, Karen Jonas doesn’t have time for any fillers. “Whether I’m finishing up a gig at midnight or getting pounced on by my kids at 6:30 a.m., I usually feel like my life is a circus,”she says. “So I started writing songs about my circus.”
She shines a light on the triumphs and challenges of that busy life with her newest release, Butter, which is out on June 1st. As rich as its name suggests, Butter mixes the textured twang of Jonas’s folk and country roots. It’s a sound she explored fully on her previous album, 2016’s Country Songs, a diverse influences of ragtime, blues, jazz, and barroom soul. It’s her broadest, boldest album to date, with songs that anchor themselves in Southern storytelling and Jonas’s smooth, unforced croon. Written and recorded in her hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Butter is a retro-minded album for the modern age – the sound of a songwriter celebrating her circumstances. Butter is Karen Jonas’s finest combination of melody and message to date, stripped free of artificial ingredients and fillers. This is Butter – smooth one minute, decadent the next, and fulfilling throughout.
Today Glide is excited to premiere the title track from the album. The feels like it could be in a dimly lit lounge with Jonas dishing out her sultry, swaggering vocals to a soundtrack of slinky, jazz soul. While it may not strike you on first listen, this is a song that is as much about the joys of motherhood as it is about soaking up the nightlife. Jonas leaves it open to interpret it as an ode to either or, and that is exactly what makes her such a compelling singer and songwriter. She also exudes a command over her platform, letting her vocals swing and sway with the brass, piano and organ that backs her up.
Listen to the tune and read our quick chat with Karen below…
What prompted you to write this song? Was there something specific that happened or that inspired you to put pen to paper?
I truly do use a lot of butter in the kitchen! I love to bake. I was baking one day and I said aloud, “Mama cooks with butter,” and it stuck in my head. I was pregnant with my baby Maggie and playing a show in New York City last year when I decided to finish up the song. There’s something warm and sensual about pregnancy and motherhood, and I wanted to capture a little bit of that energy in “Butter.”
This song really seems to encapsulate juggling work and home life successfully. Is this something you feel passionately about? Do you feel you have a grasp on doing both well with four kids at home?
I do feel passionate about being able to do both things! “Butter” is really about embracing the “at home” angle. One of the big challenges of trying to be a successful artist AND a mother is being able to stay focused on one thing or the other. If I’m worrying about my kids at a show, I won’t perform well. And I can’t parent well if I’m too caught up in my own head and my music business. “Butter” is about embracing the at-home role, and being confident and authentic while doing it.
What do your kids think of your music? Do any of them show any interest in making music themselves?
My kids are so sweet about my music. We play some daytime events, and it’s always a treat to have them there to watch. One of my favorite moments this year was when my daughter June (she’s 9 but an old soul) walked up and gave me a hug after a show and said, “I’m so proud of you, Mommy.” They are all artistically inclined, and they see art as a valid career path and way of life. My goal is to support them as they find their own paths; I don’t want to push them to pursue anything in particular.
What are your favorite things to cook with butter?
I’m a baker first, I’ve been baking cookies since I was a little kid. I’ve expanded my repertoire to include more practical things like cooking dinner, but usually with some buttery dinner rolls to go along and cupcakes for dessert.
Karen Jonas releases Butter on June 1st. For more music and info visit karenjonasmusic.com.
Photo credit: Amber Renée Photography