A Brilliant New Album from Jodie Marie

The next time someone complains to you that they don’t make albums like they used to, just point them in the direction of the new record from Pembrokeshire musician Jodie Marie.

Her new – third – album, The Answer, released this weekend, is not only available in good old-fashioned vinyl but the running order of the songs has been carefully designed to run over two LP sides. 

The 12 tracks are markers on a journey that takes the listener from vintage soul via blues and balladry to pop and rock with shades of gospel and funk along the way.

If you’ve read our previous mentions of Jodie Marie [https://pembrokeshire.online/2020/09/jodie-marie-ns-to-write/], you’ll know that she is inspired by decades of music dating back to before she was born – thanks to growing up listening to the likes of Aretha Franklin, BB King, Nina Simone and Bonnie Raitt.

The influence of the blues seems at its strongest on the album’s title song, with Jodie’s band adding lots of live-sounding power to her vocals. It’s there too on A Whole Lot Of Loving and Curse The Day, mixed in with large helpings of soul.

The sunshine-filled opener You Are My Life is a pure and solid soul track; along with Ain’t No Doubt About It, it combines a retro sound with contemporary freshness. And the most soulful song on the album is Kiss These Tears Away which has such a vintage resonance that it could have been made for Sam Cooke.

The soul blends with poppy rock on Don’t Go Telling Me (That It’s Over), while rock gets the upper hand on This House (released as a single on 5 February) and the closing funk-tinged You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I’m Gone).

But Jodie’s voice is at its most moving when she brings in an almost-gospel feel, as on Saving Grace and, even more so, on easily the best track on the album, the powerful and heart-wrenching ballad Hanging By A String

Jodie seems to sound at her most passionate on sorrowful songs. “If you are down or sad, it’s so much easier to write – because it’s like therapy,” she admits. “If you are happy, it’s not so easy!”

The album also includes the single Carageen which was reviewed here recently. That was a collaboration with Ed Harcourt who (along with his wife, Gita) is also a co-writer on Curse The Day. Jodie worked with Gita on Saving Grace, and with Dan Smith of Noisettes fame on You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I’m Gone); all the other tracks are written by Jodie.

The main producer on the album was Owain Fleetwood Jenkins, Jodie’s partner. “We both love Sixties and Seventies music,” she says, “but we wanted to give the music a modern sound as well. So we were taking in other influences such as Amy Winehouse and the Black Keys.”

As well as a new album, Jodie has a new guitar. “It’s my first electric,” she says, beaming. “And composing with that makes the songs a bit more riff-based.”

There’s a lovely story behind the guitar. “It was a generous gift from Owain,” she says. “He left it in the studio, and I walked in and said: ‘Whose is that?’ And he said: ‘Yours.’

“I’ve called the guitar Fleetwood – because that’s Owain’s middle name – and also in honour of Fleetwood Mac. It’s a Gretsch Streamliner in racing green, my favourite colour.”

Jodie’s core band consists of Tom Sinnett on bass, Jimmy Brewer on guitar and Jack Beddis on drums. “I just trust them so much,” she says. “I’m really proud of this album and I want to play these songs live with the band.”

The pandemic, of course, has put paid to so many musicians’ plans. “I would love to play gigs again,” says Jodie. “I would love to tour. But I am writing more new songs now – having the time to do that is one of the blessings from Covid.”

The good news is that she will play an online solo set from the Queens Hall, Narberth, her home town, on 19 February: “It will be my first gig in a very long time. It’s going to be quite emotional.” (Details below.)

With the new album out, with her new guitar by her side, and with more new material on the way, Jodie seems to have arrived in a good place. “I feel like I’ve settled where I am in my life and in my music,” she says. “I’ve found my comfortable spot.”

The Answer is available on Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Bandcamp and on CD and vinyl. You can order a copy at https://www.carumusic.com/jodie-marie.

You can watch Jodie Marie’s Queens Hall gig at 7pm on 19 February for free at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4lPQeNa0AA.

Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at www.nigel-summerley.blogspot.com.

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2 Responses

  1. Rob Barnes says:

    Thanks for the review, Nigel, I’m looking forward to the show tonight.