Here’s another review requested to me via the Music Festivals UK Facebook Group! I know usually I do rock reviews, but I do listen to a lot of different genres, from country to rap to acoustic stuff, so I feel like it’s nice to finally get a few different genres in here to mix up my reviews a little.
Jody Blount is a singer songwriter from my own neck of the woods (Derby), so shall try not to be too bias! He plays a style described by himself as pop, soul and acoustic, and very much comes across to me as an easy-listening type vibe too, which I love! His debut album Rise, was released earlier this year, so let’s get in and check out what he’s like!
Jumping straight in with his opening track, Let Me Go, it already sounds fantastic. A fairly basic arrangement of acoustic guitar, bass, drums and what sounds like a piano/keyboard, it all blends together so well. The vocals also fit with everything else brilliantly, it all combining together to give a relaxed, fun, bouncy verse. The slightly distorted guitars and piano kicking back in during the chorus give it an extra layer that makes it feel massive. The little solo in the bridge leading to the second verse sounded awesome, too! A great start to the album, and a song that almost immediately made it onto my playlist!
Did you Ever Wonder follows, kicking straight in with the acoustic guitar and drums. However, the real highlight of the opening is the little piano part, simple yet so effective, making it all sound so beautiful. The vocals again sound great over the top of the simple yet very effective instrumentation. Another big, uplifting sounding chorus follows a great verse and there really is nothing bad I can say about this. While it is not generally the music I tend to listen to, it sounds amazing and is a clear display of a lot of talent. This guy should be a lot bigger than he is, and I’ll definitely be listening to him more!
Next up is The Table Was Laid. Starting off slower, with just acoustic guitar and vocals, this sounds beautiful. The lyrics here are fantastic, too, so full of emotion and passion. The chorus follows in this same formula, and it sounds really great. A ballad, for sure, but a simpler, slower one than the typical ones I am used to listening to. When the drums, bass and backing vocals finally kick in towards the end of the song it makes everything sound that much more epic and impactful. A huge highlight on the album and another that made it straight onto my playlist!
Picking up the pace again with We Don’t Talk, the electric guitar is back with a pretty decent riff during the verse. The chorus is big and catchy, maybe the best one on the album so far, and every instrument works so well with one another to make it sound huge. I’m not sure how he plays it all live, but if Jody uses a backing band to play the rest of the instruments, I am SO down with seeing all this stuff live! The whole song has such a fun, bouncy rhythm to it that it honestly felt like a struggle not to dance to it.
Still In Love is up next. Starting with a beautiful (if slightly fuzzy in the mix) piano intro, I’m already excited to see where this one goes. While sounding pretty standard at this point, I’m pretty sure I heard some string samples in the chorus, adding so much depth to the song. However, if it was up to me, I’d have maybe even cranked them up even louder still in the mix. That is my only slight criticism so far of this album, the mixing is generally very good for what I imagine was a fairly small budget, but at certain times I’d have done things slightly differently. Of course, it is all personal preference, but that is what a review is! Another good song, though, overall!
Big Red Heart is another one that starts off at a slower pace, just guitar and vocals. The higher acoustic guitar tones almost remind me of some of Newton Faulkner’s earlier stuff, which is a huge plus as he’s one of my favourite artists. The rest of the instruments kick in after the first chorus and it again sounds great. The lead guitar parts behind the vocals sound very John Frusciante and, coupled with the driving bass, this does have a mid-late 90s Red Hot Chili Peppers sound to it. Dropping it back down before building back into a huge last chorus is my favourite part of the album so far, I think. The darker, slightly grungy feel to this song helped it a lot, a change of pace to the rest of the album that has really helped break it up a little!
The River starts with a similar feeling to the song before, slower paced with higher acoustic guitar notes. The chorus sounds bigger but still has the same feel and pace to it. This is a good song, but feels a little ‘by-the-numbers’ at this point, nothing really distinguishes it from the rest of the album or stands out much.
Losers Game has a nice, kind of funky beat to it, a great guitar riff being coupled with some awesome bass work behind it. The drums compliment them both even more when they kick in, too. The chorus sounds awesome too, and some less serious lyrics are a nice change of pace after a fair few songs about love and heartbreak. Another good song, the rhythm a real great driving force behind this one.
If She Could See You Now is a clear return to the somber lyrics, but the guitar riff that opens this is really beautiful, as are the vocals when they kick in. Another slower paced yet beautiful song, especially when the drums, bass and piano kick in. This may be my favourite slow song on the album, everything gels so well together.
Better Days starts out with some more awesome little piano bits over the top of symbol crashes and quiet guitar chords, a really chilled vibe. The piano is replaced by the vocals and the drums pick up a bit during the verse, but it still sounds great. The chorus is okay, but there has definitely been catchier and funner ones on the album. The whole song follows the same formula throughout, which isn’t an issue, but it might have been cool for it to go to a different level at some point throughout!
We Are is up next. Another slow start with some simple but beautiful piano and quiet guitar chords. The vocals work well over the top of it, again giving me slight Newton Faulkner vibes, kind of like Straight Towards the Sun. The chorus sounds huge and uplifting, a return to form after the last song. The choir-like backing vocals in the last chorus make it sound even bigger, and add an incredible extra layer to it which I love! Another big highlight on a real great album.
The last song and semi-title track of the album, Rise Up, goes straight in with a happy, bouncy riff, some awesome guitar work right from the beginning. The keyboard really feels like the driving force of this song, though, being present throughout. The lyrics are the highlight with this one, really uplifting and positive, something we really don’t get enough of in pop music these days. It really amplifies my ‘easy listening’ analysis from earlier. A big, feel good song to close was exactly what this album needed after a fair few love and breakup songs, and it was a very good way to go about drawing the album together.
Overall I really enjoyed this album. While it’s not typically the type of music I go for, it may have ended up being one of my top albums of the year. It’s a great album to put on and chill out to, so anyone reading this and looking for that style, this is the album for you! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Jody in the future!
Written by Joe Griffiths
Follow Joe on Facebook @ JoelGAuthor