Jodie Marie is that rarest of things: a refreshingly pure talent with a collection of deeply personal songs that manage to genuinely affect the listener.
Her voice is that of a classic artist and her unique tone and phrasing is impossible to compare. Whilst the quality and substance of the songs bring to mind greats such as Carole King and Joni Mitchell, her style is truly original within this classic framework of writing. And the emotional depth of her writing belies her mere 19 years of age.
Raised in Narberth - isolated and disinterested in the pop charts - Jodie Marie was brought up on a diet of blues and Bonnie Raitt, leading her to a soulful and genuine signature sound.
Whilst musically isolated, this sense of difference is intensified by the very physical location of her upbringing; romantic sea vistas which to the outsider could feel like other worlds entirely with their contrasts of purple foliage, waterfalls and of course that Greeny Blue sea.
"I love Pembrokeshire," she explains. "I think it has had such a massive influence on me, having all the beautiful space, landscapes and sea on my doorstep is amazing. I spend so much time at the beach, or just in the sea kayaking, surfing, or cliff jumping. I really appreciate that feeling of going out of your back door and all there is are fields and silence. You really come into your own, it's great for inspiration."
But the songs are also deeply personal, highlighting the feeling of isolation that occasionally arises in trying to communicate to our fellow humans. Her debut album, "Mountain Echo" encapsulates this feeling, as Jodie explains:
"The songs are written as conversations to people in my life, but without speaking to them directly about things, almost like an echo."
Indeed, the principal of heartfelt communication with those we care about reached a poignant climax when writing the album's title track with collaborator Ed Harcourt, as it was conceived the day that Ed heard the news of his friend Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse had taken his own life.
"Ed had been good friends with him, and he was obviously really upset. I offered to go home and let him have space, but he wanted to carry on with the session. At the end of the day we had written a song called 'Mountain Echo': this song has such emotion behind it from Ed and myself."
The seriousness of much of her subject matter is lifted to a joyous and eminently listenable plain, through her unique ear for a tune and phrasing, compounded by the classic production styles of both Bernard Butler (Duffy, Suede) and Ed Harcourt (Paloma Faith). Much of the album has been recorded live with lush string overdubs in Konk studios (owned by Ray Davies), with no editing of vocals to capture the energy and emotion of these human performances; a rare approach in today's music industry.
"I loved recording the album in such an old-fashioned way. We had rehearsed together, the mics had been set up, we all had our own places to stand or sit, and we just played live altogether. Not many artists get to do that anymore, and I think that's where I've been really lucky recording the majority of my album this way."
Discovered by Transgressive Management (the team behind Johnny Flynn, Foals and The Noisettes) when Toby L's father was on a trip back to his hometown in Wales. Speaking about his son's involvement in the music industry over breakfast, he was instructed by the landlady to check out the local plumber's daughter's music.
Signed to Decca to relaunch the classic Verve label, she follows a strong lineage of artists, from Nina Simone and Billie Holliday to the Velvet Underground and is set to transcend trends and convention with her heartfelt debut album released later in the year. The debut single "Single Blank Canvas" is a small glimpse into the expansive world of this new original voice.
The story: Toby moved into a flat with Transgressive Records signing Jeremy Warmsley, who in turn introduced him to fellow prospective flat-sharer, Johnny.
Eventually all choosing the same Camden abode (capped with Jeremy collaborator/Three Trapped Tigers creator Tom Rogerson as a fourth resident), Johnny was then predominantly (whilst still is) an actor who was rarely in at home, usually touring the country in plays.
One day, though, he invited Tim and Toby to witness a two-piece performance of himself and fellow friend Matt Edmonds at the Lock Tavern. The music was rousing, ramshackle, touching folk-blues-whatever, doused in innocence yet wisdom that belied years. After a particularly triumphant main support show at Blue Flowers in Chiswick alongside luminaries such as Jamie T and Adele, Transgressive offered to manage Johnny as their first (and sole) artist on such terms.
A deal was quickly sparked for two singles with Young & Lost Club for the rare ‘The Epic Tale of Tom & Sue' / ‘Ode To A Mare Trod Ditch' releases, before deal points were concluded for a fuller, multi-album arrangement with Universal, through its Vertigo Records imprint.
Flynn's debut LP ‘A Larum' (produced by Ryan Hadlock) was released in 2008 to exceptional acclaim, and gained a prestigious Stateside release via Lost Highway Records. Tours with recording and live band The Sussex Wit (featuring Adam Beach, the aforementioned Edmonds, cellist Joe Zeitlin and Flynn's sister Lillie) have been rapturously received, scaling extensive jaunts across North and South America, Europe and the UK.
A second album from this inspirational artist beckons for the mid-part of 2009.