(01 October 2000) Singer songwriter piano player Jo Davidson
released two very different albums during 1999. Fragile Tough Girl
(Fragile Tough Girl Records (USA) 6987-2, 1999) is comprised of eleven
heartfelt ballad-like songs in a style similar to Jenny Bruce (reviewed
above) that would fit equally comfortable in any of the teen dramas
currently being aired on WB television.
Tell The Story (Fragile Tough Girl Records (USA) 6988-2, 1999) is
the followup differing from the artist's debut containing fifteen piano
solos. The artwork accompanying the compact disc literally does as the
title suggests; it tells the story of a portion of Jo's life, focusing
on time spent in Paris. The material is also available at her website
in the "Personal Thoughts" section. Photos included in the albums' artwork
illustrate a visual similarity to actress Jennifer Anniston.
In Fragile Tough Girl the music seems to explode with
charm and sex appeal. "Brewing underneath are feelings of loss, hope, anger
and questioning." The soft pop/rock tracks are most remniscent of Tori
Amos, Alanis Morrisette and Fiona Apple. Jo Davidson provides piano
keyboard, most of the guitar and all vocals in addition to writing the
songs and co-producing the album with Greg Ladanyi (Fleetwood Mac, Jackson
Browne, Don Henley). A bevy of guest artists provide extensive supporting
instrumental arrangements to some of the tracks. The album was recorded
in Los Angeles however Jo has recently relocated to New York City where
she is currently playing venues most suited to her style of music.
The album opens with the guitar backed title track and
serves to introduce Jo Davidson's moody singing style to the
listener. "All The World's Religions" is performed with a similar,
guitar-laced instrumental arrangement. The variation between verses
and chorus illustrate the artist's range from the outset. The bluesy
"Real" derives its texture from muted trumpet and an almost spoken
vocal part. Piano dominates the arrangements of verses in the heartfelt
ballads "Tonight," "Mental Pollution," "Secrets," and "Rose Colored Glasses"
while thicker sound in the choruses comes from additional instrumentation,
including guitar, lovely string parts and harmonizing vocal layers.
We especially enjoyed the arrangements and vocal effects
in the upbeat "I Don't Dance." The lyrically interesting "Cherry Road"
is substantially simpler in its arrangements and actually has a 'performed
live' feel to it. "Shampoo Boy" and "Alone In My Room" are sung
with piano-only accompaniment, the latter reprising the title track, and
accordingly most accurately illustrate the artist's raw talent when
performing alone. The piano part can best be compared to the solos on
the artist's second album.
Jo Davidson's prowess with the piano is evident in her
debut album but her virtuosity is best expressed in Tell The Story.
All songs were written, produced and recorded by Jo herself. Contemporary
in nature, her classical piano training shines through in each track. It
is evident why she has had her songs recorded by artists like Stephanie
Milles, Melissa Manchester and has won numerous songwriting contests.
Lovers of piano music will adore this fifteen track album.
You can order Jo Davidson's albums from her own website. Certainly
worthy of further exploration, fans of Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette
will want to try them out. You can find soundbites at her
Althought they are very different, we found both of Jo Davidson's albums
to be a very nice listen!