Jo Potter – Saved – Album Review
There we go…that’s what the ears are looking for…you can hear the authenticity, passion and charm in Jo Potter’s voice immediately as the title-track of her new album Saved starts up her new album. Talk about smooth! “Saved” comes out sounding sincere, powerful and emotionally compelling throughout its lyrics, heartbreakingly sweet…it sounds like a genuine plea for a loved one to return; Jo’s vocals come out great, she’s got solid, bold tones and the right energy to match the mood & atmosphere of the music & lyrics. Definitely an impressive start to the record; I can’t hear anything about this that’s not single-worthy. It’s ultimately an innocent & sweet song with a beautiful perspective on love with a gentle rhythm & melody that immediately welcomes & invites you into Jo Potter’s warm, glowing sound.
If “Saved” was just a subtle example of Jo’s more tender tunes, then “Good” instantly shows you a glimpse of her wilder side as the album continues. This second tune is already confirmation of her insane amount of natural talent & charismatic vocals, as well as her songwriting; I’m certainly going to listen to the rest of the album…but as far as any proof is required, Jo’s already given me all I need between these first tunes. This fine lady certainly has a place in music as far as I’m concerned. “Good” is freakin’ fantastic…a great mix of true rock-influenced R&B…overall Jo’s finding herself in the middle of a mix that sounds like Sass Jordan, Fiona Apple, Wild Strawberries, Esthero and Bonnie Raitt on this cut. So how’s THAT for a wide range of sound for ya? Jo’s killin’ it on “Good” – she puts in a fantastic performance on the mic that is wonderfully stylistic, fun, soulful & jazzy…she’s right in the moment here and has a perfect grip on the right way to approach this tune. Music is equally solid, excellent drums and guitars kickin’ it around the ever-moving bass-lines that drive the rhythm of “Good” to its success. Smart ideas in the background layers of the vocals as the song heads towards its ending, bringing out the free-style & free-spirited vocals of Jo even more through the lead and through the whispered backgrounds swirling into the mix of guitar solos & crunchy tones…the pace, the movement, the vocals…Jo puts in a memorable performance on “Good.”
There are times where I wish I could honestly trade bodies & minds with people so they could experience music the way that I do. I hear a verse like “In Time” has and the perfect amount of passion, emotion and power that Jo has in her vocals and I seriously get chills. The moment this tune started, I smiled that smug smile of knowing I was completely right about her from my assessment of those first two tunes…that she was indeed something truly special and a new bright-spot in music that is sorely needed out there right now in the world. Jo channels her inner-Alanis inside of K’s Choice or Chantal Kreviazuk-style tune throughout the melody, sound & cadence of “In Time” to get some really captivating moments & energy into the vocals…but the real credit in this tune is to that lyrical-flow & writing, in addition to the stunning execution in production and performance. Everything is clearly coming together for Jo Potter…I think “In Time” speaks to that somewhat. She writes beautiful imagery into her words…many a gifted writer can…it’s the way she connects to the words she sings that really makes this music have the magic it does. “In Time” is the third single-worthy tune out of three that I’ve heard from Potter so far…she’s not showing any signs of slowing down, she’s picking it up and running headfirst towards her dreams…the conviction in her voice make her words insightful, believable, real & beautiful. I’m a melody guy…there’s nothing not to love here as far as I’m concerned when it comes to “In Time” – I love this song.
“In Time” and even the title-tune “Saved” are more suited towards my own personal taste…those are melodies that sincerely connect, intimate in sound and beautiful moments in time. Jo clearly has just as much in the tank in her up-tempo grooves as well, which “Good” has shown us and “When Things Go Wrong” will prove again. Enigmatic in her style, “When Things Go Wrong” has that stomping beat you can find in classic rock-style R&B…also in pop/country…Jo gives you a dose of both worlds combined here with a more old-school approach to the verse and a modern twist into the chorus. Great backing vocals in this cut keep the vocals sounding vibrant…it’s a solid hit of smooth-blues-rock with a twinge of big country hooks…I think she’s doing a great job, not my own personal favorite but no complaints with how she’s got “When Things Go Wrong” written or performed…it’s all aces and will likely be a tune that could be sought out by many, many people out there. Essentially, “When Things Go Wrong” could just as easily be a hit for Jo – you’d just likely find this particular tune ending up in a different genre. Never a bad thing to have a multi-dimensional sound…Jo’s got one for sure; what’s most amazing is how proficient and strong she is in each of the different styles she takes on – she’s not just mutli-dimensional, she’s verifiably multi-talented when it comes to making music of all kinds.
I’ll say this…when it comes to a song like “Give It To Me,” I feel like…hmm…okay…I feel like this one takes Jo’s authentic connection to the lyrics back a bit in terms of the writing…like almost more of an attempt at a hit than a genuine extension of what she’s really feeling. BUT…and this is the most important detail of all – we SHOULD notice that in her performance as a result of the distance between the author and the words…like the Nashville writing-effect whereby the song is perfect but the connection feels hollow & without emotion…but we do NOT notice that here in Jo’s inspired performance. She sounds absolutely vibrant on “Give It To Me” – and it’s because of that that this song ends up being a true highlight in an album full of them already through her energetic and passionate approach to the vocals on this song. It can make all the difference in the world at times – I think it really does here…Jo takes what could have been a good song into what is at the very least now a great song. Love the guitars, especially towards the end once again…and I love the subtle echo on the vocals as the song heads towards its finish-line after supplying a seriously sexy mix of words in amongst the bright & bold sound in the rhythm & groove of “Give It To Me.”
“So Beautiful” actually comes back around as an acoustic tune at the very end of the record as well…but let me just say, stunning song in either of its forms. I think comparatively, I ended up liking the most stripped-back sound to the acoustic version a bit more…so I’ll save the majority of my comments on this tune for the end…but as it stands here in its full mix, I’m certainly not turning it down or away. In fact, if anything, I think it’s one of the rare cases where an album does benefit from multiple recordings of the same tune…the acoustic version at the end might just be a bonus, but it felt like both had a place and a reason to exist on Saved and I appreciated that. In the middle here, “So Beautiful” adds life and some additional energy in a pop-indie style, and at the end of the record, really brings home the sweetness in one of the album’s most intimate moments to finish the album off in style…like I said, great tune either way. I just think Jo sounds extra sweet in the acoustic and her range gets more of a spotlight, that’s all!
I just can’t imagine people not digging the music Jo Potter makes…a track like “So Into You” sounds so incredibly smooth…I mean…you just GOTTA love it! Solid music as always, sweet-twangin’ tones on the guitar sparkle throughout the song as the bass & drums hold down the rhythm-section as solidly as ever. Jo’s right on that edge of folk-country & real R&B here…putting in another spectacular performance that has the stunning amount of character in her voice and stylistic delivery hitting the mark right in the bullseye once more. The amount of natural ability, talent and skill that Potter is working with could very well put her onstage & airwaves all throughout the globe…she’s a world-class singer with extraordinary capabilities and a passionate bond to all-things-music, and her every move on the microphone confirms that. She’s right in the flow & feeling the moment on “So Into You” & you can hear the fun she’s having.
Heading into a more soulful style rock-ballad on “Something,” she shifts gears once again as she transitions her energy, sound & style to fit the gentle sway of the music. “Something” has a beautiful, classy & classic sound to its melody…towards that second minute, Jo has some sincere highlights to her vocals on this album…you can hear her putting her heart & soul into this tune. Musically it’s an interesting tune…between the gentleness of the rhythm, “Something” even ends up in like, Hendrix & Zeppelin-esque tones & chords at times, making for a really unique tune on the record overall. This is another fine example of being able to hear Jo’s connection to the words…something about “Something” sounds focused, real and honest without feeling like it’s pursuing a hit at the same time. I think as a result, we end up connecting to this tune just as strongly as listeners…because it sounds so compellingly genuine – but what about Jo’s music hasn’t? Every time she steps to the microphone, she ends up bringing out a new ability, approach, sound or skill…she’s got a natural gift for finding the perfect vibe in her vocals to suit the atmosphere or mood in the music…I really think she’s one of the special ones out there. An undiscovered talent thus far perhaps…but I can’t imagine she’ll stay a secret for very long; people are going to love Jo Potter – she brings personality, depth and charm to his songwriting and always sounds confident in whichever direction she takes with her sound…people will dig that for sure.
I mean…come ON Jo! Where does it end? Not that I want it to end because I certainly do not! I could listen to this fine lady sing all damn day every day. Every tune on this record shows her stunning ability, versatility and limitless potential…she sounds like an upbeat and intimate version of The Pretenders-meets-Alanis on “Gravity” – Potter can morph her vocals perfectly to suit any style it seems. Track after track, she continues to impress – “Gravity” might very well be one of my favorite tracks on Saved – I think she’s done an amazing job with the vocals and harmonies, think the flow of the melody is sweet, strong, bold and beautiful, the pace and structure is absolutely stunning. She deals with tough emotions on “Gravity” and nestles them in contrast with the gorgeous melody and soaring vocals…I think it’s certainly one of her best tunes at the very, very least…and at this point, I’m kind of lost for words at just how well Jo Potter’s album has come out sounding…she should be seriously proud of this record.
She writes about her feelings, emotions and experiences in truly relatable ways that resonate with us as listeners. “Still” is a great example of some of her innermost thoughts & feelings on display, nice chill beat in the music and an empowered performance from Jo on the mic. I think “Still” ends up being a rad song on the album in terms of how she chose to approach it; she could have played this one much, much safer and sang it in hushed tones – instead, she becomes more bright, more bold, more beautiful and more expressive with each passing bar of the beat and throughout the song. Don’t get me wrong…she’s not screaming into the mic by the end of “Still” and she nails the chillness in the music throughout the verse…but like a flower in full-bloom, she expands the range, power and sound in the song’s chorus with a professional’s touch and a real artist’s approach. She’s unafraid to be direct and say exactly what’s on her mind & in her heart – a song like “And Again” will prove that to you for certain. Love the additional piano tones filling the melody of this track, it’s got a real classic sound to the songwriting, the stunning execution we’ve come to expect and expertly written & realized hooks. Somehow…not even sure how exactly…”And Again” really sounds like it insightfully dials-back the energy of the album without being one iota less entertaining…it’s in fact probably another of my favorites on Saved overall…but something about “And Again” does end up feeling like it’s the beginning of the end of the final stages of the record and that we’re on our way to its final tune. Hard to put that into words I suppose…but it speaks to the brilliant way this album moves and is laid out to listen to.
Wrapping up this entire experience as fantastically as it all began, Jo heads back into a sweet acoustic-led melody for the album’s final song, “So Beautiful .” She reminds me a bit of Nina Gordon here from her solo stuff outside of Veruca Salt, which I completely loved as well. She’s got just the right amount of break in her voice that lets you know she’s in full control of how strong or how fragile the tone & sound of her singing is. Keeping it simple here at the end with a gorgeous acoustic sound ringing out pure & true, Jo continues to give reasons to listen to her right to the final seconds of the album as she has all the way through it. I honestly don’t know what exactly I was expecting when I pushed play on Saved…but I genuinely think we’ve discovered an incredible natural talent that’s going to continue to get better & better, even though she’s already amazing. The more of herself that she puts into her music, concentrates and focuses on keeping up what makes her unique from the rest & doesn’t worry trying to wrap up the hooks in a Nashville-plastic, I think she’s gonna be more than fine. Jo Potter’s got a strong, sweet & powerful voice with a real gift for performance & songwriting…I maintain, she can’t stay a secret for long…the people out there are gonna love her music and how real it all sounds.
Find out more about Jo Potter at her official homepage at: http://jopotter.com