Friday, 21 March 2014

REVIEW: Jimi Goodwin - 'Odludek' (Heavenly Recordings)

A lot of the time when a frontman of a well loved group goes solo, the resulting material can sometimes end up sounding a bit like their usual band but not quite as good. While Manchester trio Doves have been on hiatus for the last four years, Jimi Goodwin steps out into the musical world with his very own debut offering. It's by no means a low-key affair either, more of a wild adventure at times. “I wanted it to be like that crazy mixtape you’d make your mate which had everything from Duke Ellington to some mad hip-hop track you’d just heard, and back again,” says Goodwin. “That’s how I listen to music, and I wanted to make an album that reflected that. The last thing I wanted it to sound like was some geezer who was in a band. I don’t like being pegged.”

Blaring bursts of brass open the album with the Bond theme-like drama of the mean 'Terracotta Warrior', where the hunger in his delivery is evident. You soon realise this is neither a Doves album or a little side project. 'Didsbury Girl' unexpectedly starts as a sample driven piece trip hop before it blooms into a mysteriously dreamy highlight that is perhaps the moment here most reminiscent of his band. On the striking 'Live Like A River', 90's dance flavours that have been lying dormant inside the former Sub Sub man for the best part of two decades rise to the surface again as urgent hooks partner infectious melodies and almost EDM-like sounds. It's a confident exercise in creative freedom for Goodwin, who jumps from genre to genre as he pleases, presenting a journey through his various influences, even trying out world music and folk on 'Hope',  while swinging into an unusual bit of vaudevillian psychedelica on the bizarre 'Man Vs Dingo, a chaotic piece that talks of "sucking on the wishbone", as the horns grow angrier and the whole thing has you wondering where the hell it came from. Startling.


Characterised by piano jazz and brushed beats, the elegantly reflective 'Keep My Soul In Song' provides one of the record's best bits, as does the fantastic 'Oh! Whiskey'. With an air of bar room wisdom, bright acoustic guitar and harmonica take part in a lovely organic arrangement before effortlessly progressing into a beautifully fitting middle section and slipping into a alluringly melancholic outro. Chiming notes and subtle breakbeats ignite the uplifting gospel/blues-tinged treasure 'Ghost Of The Empties', one of many tracks which highlights the magnificent production job Goodwin and Dan Austin have done on 'Odludek'. After the defiant, hard rocking Eastern sounds of the superb 'Lonely At The Drop', the wry, playful 'Panic Tree' finds him taking a different route and offering new ways to interpret his songs, as the album ends with a jaunty orchestral romp.

A surprising, diverse and strongly assured solo debut from a man who has defied and surpassed expectations. At times a slow burner perhaps, but plenty to enjoy. 7.7/10



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