Go, 80’s Girl!

Listening to Jodi Jett, one is reminded of the subdued yet aggressive voice of Liz Phair. According to Jett, she had never heard of Phair when she first began playing her music out in the local clubs, a fact which I find nearly unbelievable. I suppose one could chalk it up to her Midwestern childhood and the bland nature of commercial radio in rural locations. After giving Revelations a spin, other comparisons sprang to mind, such as fellow New York rocker Halley DeVestern and the understated stylings of Beck’s sparser tunes. The other name that is frequently mentioned in her press material is Lou Reed, but I am not familiar with his music.

Before I received her CD, I listened to a few tracks on her MySpace page. The one that stood out and made me listen to the rest is “’80s Girl.” The song gives shout outs to the fashion and the hit songs of the American 1980s, ensuring it to be popular among those old enough to remember them.

Go, go ’80s girl
We are the world with your big teased hair
And your short short’s Nair
Your Michael J. hands and your parachute pants,
Your Madonna bras and shopping malls
Go ’80s girl

The video expands upon the theme, showing us the ’80s Girl trying to keep it real in the new Millennium. Once my amusement at her predicament passed, I began to think about how this song is in many ways a warning to anyone stuck in a particular frame of mind when the rest of the world has moved on. While it may be merely amusing to consider a woman stuck in the ’80s fashion scene, it is more serious when one realizes that our current political situation in the United States seems to indicate that our leaders are stuck in the ’80s global politics scene. If only it were that they they had hung onto their parachute pants and Aqua Net. . . . But I digress.

The other gem on the CD is “Bedford Avenue.” The percussion provides the perfect build and drive to move the song forward, saving it from the wistfulness of the electric guitar line. The lyrics are almost a Cinderella style fairytale, minus the happy ending. Bedford Avenue is presented as a romantic memory frozen in time rather than a particular place. The lovers cherished the moment knowing that it would be gone by sunrise. It was a relationship doomed from the start, but the pair entered into it nonetheless. A mistake that is made far too often. Ah, Ms. Jett, soothe our pain!

If Dorothy Gale had been a rocker instead of a girl with some funky shoes, perhaps she would have written an ode to her home in Kansas instead of running off to some wizard. “No Place Like” home gives a nod to the Oz tale while providing a mouthpiece for Jett’s homesick ruminations: “wandering — no place to go — somewhere over the rainbow.”

The most touching song on the album is the low-fi “Heaven To Me.” It could be taken as a sappy song to a lover until one realizes it’s about a parent-child relationship. “Yeah, I like to play and I like to sing, but, Baby, you in my arms – that’s heaven to me.” The bass-heavy acoustic guitar and cello (played by Jane Scarpantoni) bring a dark sweetness to the song not found on most of the other tracks.

My only complaint with the album is that Jett’s vocals are much the same throughout. Her range is limited, almost monotone. Some folks might groove on that, but after a while I get bored and stop listening to the lyrics.

shhhh cowboy

New York style roots rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

cover of Some Other PlaceMost Blogcritics readers are familiar with Jon Sobel as a witty and thoughtful music critic, but probably few know that Sobel is also a musician and songwriter. His band, Whisperado, has an EP that should be in every literate music fan’s collection.

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