When Models Have Pipes

14 Jun

I’m fairly certain my girl crush on Karen Elson—or Mrs. Jack White (although I prefer Karen Elson)—began in the mid-nineties, when her flame red hair sent her catapulting into modeling stardom via the edgy girls circuit. Her skin, perfectly porcelin—the stuff of pre-religion-filled Anne Rice novels; her mouth painted red, red, red to have it out with her hair; her eyes, piercing; and her eyebrows, not present all of the time. She was a quirky, yet undeniable beauty with a certain something; and all these years later, the world finds out that the aforementioned certain something was real talent. (Let’s not get into whether modeling requires talent. I’m sure it does, but I’m talking about an even more spectacular talent.) The girl can sing.

Karen Elson strumming beside Jackson (son of Patti) Smith

I was thrilled to see Karen and Jack White in an editorial together for the first time in the most recent Vogue. There was mention of her recording something, a fact which sort of filtered through my eyes and out my ears as I dwelled on the perfection that is Karen Elson and Jack White’s groovy, dark-country elegance. It’s so subtle and flowing—fetchingly gloomy somehow. It’s as if the world is illuminated by candlelight wherever they go. But that’s probably just me getting lost in Annie Leibovitz’s photos. (Go, Grace Coddington for such exquisite art direction!)

Anyhow, I’d read that article a couple weeks ago, and a few days ago, my dearest sent me a video of Karen singing live at Third Man Records, run by Mr. White himself. Not only did she look hauntingly gorgeous, she sounded surprisingly spectacular—and I only say surprising because models who’ve gone down in history as great vocalists are far and few between, yes? But her vocal stylings are so pure and pleasing. I hear traces of Stevie and Sandy Denny—maybe Nancy and Ann Wilson at times; but, really, I hear her, and I love what I hear. And it must be said that female-fronted acts constitute a sliver in my music collection. No good reason for it—it just is what it is. Music with twangy guitars are virtually non-existent in my iTunes, but, as my husband mentioned, the steel guitar is used interestingly on this record—it isn’t overtly alt-country. It’s dark country, as I say—fit for a stroll through an overgrown cemetery whilst twirling a frilly white parasol—but there’s other stuff, too, so check it out.

Also check out The Citizens Band stuff if you’ve any interest in cabaret.

Thank heavens for new music. It was all getting rather bland. Consider me moved.

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2 Responses to “When Models Have Pipes”

  1. Sara June 15, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    Hi! You stopped by my blog earlier and mentioned this post, and I’m so glad you did! I haven’t ever listened to Karen Elsen and am now sat at work desperately wishing for lunch time so I can take a listen! She sounds exactly like my cup of tea.
    Thanks for the recommendation and the comment – I’m adding you to my feedreader so I can look out for more!

    Sara xx

    • itavero June 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

      That is so nice—thanks so much! I hope you like her. I’m so very addicted for not even being particularly fond of the genre, traditionally speaking. Still can’t figure out what it is…

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