Jeordie, who, no matter what she accomplishes, will always have her name followed by a comma and the words Melanie's daughter, is back following up her 2011 release, Jeordie & the Mixology Project (which I reviewed on this site on 5 May 2012) with the new Pixiebeast.
Pixiebeast is an appropriate name for the disc. It implies a duality, something mystical and earthy, soft and tough. It's a union of opposites, which is pretty much what this album is. One of Jeordie's goals here appears to be to show how her range has expanded over the years. Her music is stronger than she has shown in the past, it goes deeper and while she still writes about love and relationships a lot, in most of her songs she has something real to say about them, rather than just relying on the standard riff that they are good.
Since she spent her childhood singing harmony behind her mother, it's hardly a surprise that Jeordie is a fine harmony singer. Each of her songs uses her dubbed voice to accompany the main vocal, and the blending of the voices catches your ear and refuses to release it. Her singing is still influenced by her mother; she can be conversational as Melanie often is, and she can demonstrate the unusual phrasings that characterize her mother's singing. She isn't imitating, though. She heard that voice all her life and sang along with it since she was a child. There's no way she could escape reflecting it and now she has internalized it so that the influence remains but she is definitely her own singer. And a very good one.
The songs? A solid variety of ballads, country-rock, blues, smooth jazz and novelty. She can go from a sentiment such as "Ain't No One Gonna Love You Like Me" to "You're S.O.L. with Me." She sings "We Belong" but follows it up with a song that insists she's not the "Marrying Kind." She is consistent in her talent but is never predictable.
The arrangements avoid the common indie error of using the same instruments on all tracks, relying on a small band that makes it easier and cheaper to record. Jeordie brings in the musicians and the instruments that support each song, arranging them by what is needed, rather than convenience and cost. Horn sections, harps, a cello and a tuba all appear when they are needed for the song. Especially well arranged is her tribute to her adopted home state, "My Arizona," on which her brother Beau Jarred arranged the song and played all the instruments.
I thoroughly enjoyed Jeordie & the Mixology Project. Pixiebeast, however, is a fuller and deeper work, keeping all the promises that the previous disc made.
music review by
Michael Scott Cain
14 September 2013
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