Anyone who follows my writings will know how much I love singer Jo Beth Young, who over the last few years has continued to grow and expand her repertoire. The first single from her album ‘Broken Spells’, which should be out later this year, shows her looking back to some of the work she has been doing historically, some of what she has been doing more recently, while also taking her music in a new direction. When I think of Jo Beth I think of ethereal vocals, often in a folk or folk-style setting while she is also a great improvisor. On this song she has invited Devon based Cellist Ben Roberts (Abrasive Trees, Evi Vine) and her co-collaborator John Reed (from their Nightsong project) on lap steel, but what is taking this in different directions are the beats added by co-producer Matt Blackie. There are also plenty of repeats on her vocals, and the result is something which is both familiar and very different indeed from what she has produced before.
My ears do have some problem reconciling the lap steel with the more modern and electric approach, although it did make some sense to me the more I played it. I appreciate what Jo Beth is doing, and that she is experimenting with her music and expanding is something I fully understand but if the album is all along these veins then I will probably not be listening to it as much as I have to ‘Strangers’ or ‘An Abandoned Orchid House’. I have never been a fan of beats, and to me it distracts too much from the core sound, but for those who have a more modern view on music like this then please discover her music as the vocals are sublime, with elements of Kate Bush and Enya.
7/10 Kev Rowland