Photo: Perry Heller
Image © Joscream 2008
(03 February 2008) Jo Williamson is a rapidly emerging folk singer songwriter based in the New York City area. Her five-track EP is entitled Wake On The Hudson (Joscream (USA) 6 34479 68797 6, 2008). It is a concept piece about beginnings. Produced by composer/multi-instrumentalist Brent Arnold, the album layers elegant orchestrations with Williamson's vocals, allowing her voice to be the main instrument and primary storyteller. It also features the talents of guitarist Jim Campilongo, bassist Mat Fieldes, drummer Rich Levinson, horn player Ann Ellsworth, trumpeter Peter Evans, and clarinet player Matt Bauder.
Earlier in her career, Jo Williamson formed a fusion (jazz, classical, folk) group with trumpet player Charlie Porter called Joellen and the Dogbiters. She has also worked with avant-garde/classical composers Carman Moore and Faye Ellen Silverman who wrote a fifteen minute piece for French horn and voice based on a piece she created with Ann Ellsworth called "Left Behind". Jo also has had the pleasure of collaborating on musical pieces as a composer with British video artist Chris Allen and the Light Surgeons, and artist Ada Whitney (Beehive). Also an actress, Jo has been fortunate enough to play some of Shakespeare's great female roles including Joan la Pucelle ("Blood and Roses", STNJ). She has worked with filmmaker Linas Phillips and absurdist playwright Rachel Shukert on new work.
Jo has a well-honed and wide vocal range. Her voice has a lovely crystalline quality and works well with the simple acoustic arrangements. The EP opens with the lightly backed track "Sailor Boy." Indeed Jo's voice is the focal point of the tune but the arrangements add a lovely texture. "Scramblin" is sung atop a gentle but lush arrangement. Vocal excursions and lovely backing harmonies are evocatively delivered.
Our staff especially enjoyed the folky track "Ready," primarily as a result of Jo's simply gorgeous soaring vocals. "Dream on Dreamer" is a catchier and more upbeat tune with a richer guitar-laced arrangement. The dramatic tempo changes within the song work especially well with and highlight Jo's voice. The EP concludes with the evocative and quiet ballad "O Belinda." Listen to Jo's voice work as an essential instrument in the arrangement.
Listen to this collection of Jo's songs stream at her MySpace page. Alternatively, purchase her CD at CDBaby. She performs in and around New York City. Catch a live show. Certainly an artist to watch in the coming months, Jo Williamson has a lot of music to offer to an even broader audience.