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LAist Interview: Jonatha Brooke

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On her sixth solo studio album, The Works, Jonatha Brooke lends her unmistakable timbre and solid songwriting skills to lyrics penned by Woody Guthrie ("This Land Is Your Land") more than 50 years ago. With the blessing and assistance of Guthrie's daughter, Nora, Brooke scoured the Guthrie archives to create one of the most intriguing albums of the year. Throughout the 13 tracks, Brooke’s style intertwines with Guthrie's words to reveal a man who was at once passionate and flawed, frightened and brash.

LAist recently sat down with Brooke to chat over breakfast at Cora's Coffee Shop in Santa Monica. It became obvious throughout the conversation that she fell in love with this American icon, and it would be hard for anyone who listens to this album not to do the same.

LAist: Do you feel that Guthrie’s lyrics are just as relevant today as they were then, or perhaps were they a bit ahead of their time and thus even more relevant now?

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Jonatha Brooke: Both, I think. There’s such beauty in it, and you don’t find that kind of poetry in lyrics today. I’m thinking specifically of "Sweet and Bitter Bowl":

I am your battles still to fight
I’ll be your roughest day and night
I’ll take from you your hardest sweat
And pay you in words not sung or said.

I think that maybe, poetically, the words were more apropos for the day, but to hear them now is just stunning. That attention to detail and those words you wouldn’t necessarily choose today—how cool to hear something said that way!