You know that almost-but-never relationship you had (or have, bless your heart) that kept you coming back for more as it unraveled your sanity (and, in my case, elicited a nine-month stream of subtweets)? So do Brooklyn-based “queer country trailblazers” Karen & the Sorrows, and their single “I Was Just Your Fool” from their upcoming album, The Narrow Place (out August 25th), will have you swaying back and forth in solidarity with that heart-wrenching feeling.
The sound aligns with old-school country but incorporates an alternative undercurrent that boosts the hipness. Drummer Tami Johnson keeps the beat as singer-songwriter Karen Pittelman narrates the heartbreak with a sweetly sad Dolly Parton-esque voice and Elana Redfield backs it up with "lonesome pedal steel guitar." Don’t know what pedal steel guitar is? Neither did I, but I knew it when I heard it because I felt it’s haunting electricity. (For this album, the group enlisted bassist Gerard Kouwenhoven to accompany their soulful vibes.)
Heartbreak and loss are recurring themes that weave The Sorrows’ new album, The Narrow Place, together. And even if country music isn’t your scene, you’ll be undoubtedly moved by their modern-yet-classic auditory aesthetic and socially-progressive inclusivity with songs ranging from a "queer reimagining of the bro-country pickup truck ode to a Jewish family story about immigration and race."
The Sorrows are pioneers of a growing queer country scene, running Brooklyn’s Gay Ole Opry Festive and the Queer Country Quarterly for the last six years, creating an all-embracing community that aims to expand a genre that doesn’t always preach tolerance. “Now more than ever, we are grateful to be in community with so many amazing musicians,” Pittelman says. “Country music can tell compelling stories about family, love, heartbreak, and strength. Those stories should include all of our families, all of our love, and especially all of our heartbreak and our strength.”
Listen to "I Was Just Your Fool" below to get you in your feelings, and pre-order The Narrow Place here. You can even get the album on a Limited Edition Lavender Vinyl for a ~divine~ listening experience.
Photo: Karen & the Sorrows by Carole Litwin - (from left to right) Elana Redfield, Karen Pittelman and Tami Johnson
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Hannah Rose, historically just Hannah, naturally tried to change her name upon moving to NYC from Austin, Texas (but keeps forgetting). Originally from North Katy, Texas - the wrong side of the tracks. Will defend Kanye until the day she dies. Batshit crazy. Overall bae.