Jodie Marie

Mountain Echo

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Discovered in the same Pembrokeshire area, launched through a similar indie label, and partnered with the same acclaimed producer, it's little wonder that 20-year-old Jodie Marie has been described as the "new Duffy." But despite the presence of former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler on board, her debut album, Mountain Echo, has little in common with her fellow Welsh songbird's Rockferry. The jaunty brass-led Motown of "I Got You" and the string-soaked "Remember Me" could quite easily sit alongside the likes of "Mercy" and "Warwick Avenue," but elsewhere, its 11 tracks provide a much more intimate and stripped-back affair inspired by the blues of Bonnie Raitt rather than the classic soul of the '60s. None more so than on the sparse acoustics of "Greeney-Blue," a heartfelt apologetic love song which exposes Marie's timeless vocals in all their surprisingly gritty glory, while the authentic barroom balladry of "On the Road" and the fragile melancholy of "What Would It Take?" further suggest her heart belongs to the Deep South. However, it's the two tracks which lean toward alt-country territory which provide the record's highlights. Both co-written with singer/songwriter Ed Harcourt, "Like a Runaway" is a toe-tapping, steel-laden ode to homesickness, while the title track is a gorgeously atmospheric tribute to the late Mark Linkous, who passed away on the day of its recording. Its minimal approach means that some tracks fail to leave any lasting impression, particularly the unremarkable, piano-led torch song "Shadows of Rain," and the Carole King-esque easy listening of "Dandelion Wishes." But while it's sometimes a little too delicate for its own good, Mountain Echo is still a highly encouraging first offering which proves the Duffy comparisons don't do her any justice.

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