Jodie Marie is Back with a New Album
The fact that Jodie Marie was signed to a major record label when she was just 16 bears witness to her tremendous talent as a songwriter and singer.
I’d been wanting to catch up with her ever since I saw her perform a brilliant solo set at Tenby Blues Festival in 2019, but a few things – including a pandemic and a lockdown – had got in the way.
Finally, as some sort of new normal began to materialise, I managed to extricate myself from the tangle of backroads around Clarbeston (with Jodie’s patient guidance) and got to sit down with her outside her StudiOwz recording studio on the edge of the village.
Jodie, 29, originally from Narberth, is no run-of-the-mill singer, and this is no run-of-the-mill studio. It is contained in Clarbeston’s imposing old Carmel Baptist Church which was built in the 19th century.
Jodie and her musician partner, Owain Fleetwood Jenkins, bought the chapel and the house next door at an auction three years ago. They then spent 18 months doing the place up before moving in.
“These chapels were made for singing in,” she says. “Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and just go across to the studio and sing.”
Jodie’s musical career definitely had early beginnings – and long before that first recording contract. “I had classical singing lessons when I was six,” she says. “And music was always a passion. I was always writing words and music.”
A demo of her songs finally found its way into the hands of a talent scout visiting Pembrokeshire – and almost immediately she was signed to professional management and to Decca, and found herself collaborating with Bernard Butler (ex-Suede guitarist, songwriter and acclaimed producer).
“I was quite young and it was almost as if I didn’t believe what was happening,” says Jodie.
Her first album of original songs appeared on the Verve label (home of many distinguished jazz artists, including Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone) which Decca had decided to revive.
But then things went slightly awry. The Verve project came to an end and Jodie’s champion at Decca decided to move on. “When things stopped with Decca, I felt kind of lost,” Jodie admits.
And it was quite a while before her second album appeared, in 2015, this time on her own StudiOwz label.
Growing up, she had listened to the likes of Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and Carole King. Other influences include Karen Dalton and one of Jodie’s greatest inspirations, Bonnie Raitt.
“On the second record a lot of my blues and soul influences came to the fore,” she says.
Like the blues, Jodie’s song often cover heartbreak and heartache. “I want to show life,” she says. “You have dark times and then you have times to heal and mend. And then you are back into things. My songs show both sides of the coin.”
And now soon to arrive is her third album. What can we expect this time? “It will continue on from what I’ve done. It has a kind of soul/pop vibe with the influence of the blues still there. I’ve been trying for a blend of modern and vintage, and I feel I’ve created my sound.”
When Jodie performs live, it’s clear that she’s not on an ego trip. It’s almost as if she has to coax herself into making public these often revealing songs. “I’m quite shy,” she agrees. “But I have to write from personal experience. And when I sing a song, I can’t do it justice unless I know about what it’s about.”
Her inspiration comes not just from other artists and from her own life – Pembrokeshire too still plays its part in the process: “I love the seasons here – and walking on the beach or in the woodland. If I’m stuck with writing, then I’ll go to the beach.”
And what about the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic? She is philosophical: “I think the lockdown helped us to reevaluate the pace of life and all the pressures that we put on ourselves.”
Jodie sums it all up by saying: “I love performing, I love recording and I love experimenting in the studio. Music is a hard business and you have to have many strings to your bow.”
Blessed with plenty of those strings, this music industry veteran who is not yet 30 looks and sounds like being a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.
+ Jodie’s new album will be called The Answer – which is also a track on the record. The album will be available in early 2021 on Carmel Records, a Caru Music Company. The first single from it is called Carageen and has just been released.