When I was sent the very haunting pop artist Jodi Shaw’s brand new release “In Waterland”, I initially chose the “album stream” option. 30 seconds into the album opener “Swim”, I’m partially shocked, and partially swept away into some peaceful, clear, resilient recess of my consciousness. I’m now making sure I download the release. Make no mistake; this is healing music, haunting but pure. Brilliant singer/songwriter material – hard to pin down, although I would throw the names Sarah McLachlan, Imogen Heap, Enya, Big Sir, Mazzy Star, and Tori Amos mixed with a wise folk/indie rock perspective. Actually, those comparisons don’t really come close – I’m out of reference points but enjoying the attempt.

“Swim” trudges along with the same determination of “Man Overboard” by Puscifer, guided by lush pianos and Jodi’s gorgeous vocals dancing and trading with one another. In fact, the mood and quality of this music is quite similar to the stellar, emotionally charged work found on Puscifer’s “Conditions of my Parole”, a recent masterpiece. As that release was my favourite release of 2011, that is a big compliment.

Jodi Shaw’s voice is spellbinding and attention-grabbing. I hear a lot of singers every day who know how to mimic emotion. This is a singer who directly communicates it, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear at the end of a long day. Other highlights from the album include “The Mystery of Love”, which has a subtle merry-go-round “get on board” rhythm and a great, infectious piano piece. As usual, though, it’s Jodi’s voice that shines above everything else as she sings “I’ll sail that ship to shore”. Take a listen to the very moody and absolutely sublime “To the Country (We Go)”, as the off-notes are revelled in and an angelic voice calls out. “Fortunate Prince” is menacing and unnerving – you can hear the Elliott Smith influence here. Between this and the elegant vulnerability of “Hell’s Bells”, Jodi Shaw is full of range and possibility.

This has to be one of the most impressive and moving releases I’ve heard in 2012. I’m thankful that there are artists like Jodi Shaw out there. Even if you don’t always follow her at-times cryptic poetic direction (another positive), you can certainly feel it.

Free download: Jodi Shaw – In Waterland – 04 The Mystery of Love.

Music Reviews

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