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Ida Jo, For Better For Worse - 2013
Vision. Integrity. Passion. Honesty.
Ida Jo continues her prolific output with the intimate new album For Better For Worse. It is her 4th solo release in as many years, following 2012's raw and energetic Uncharted. For Better For Worse is spacious and personal, full of insightful lyrics and groovy, violin-driven textures.
Familiar are Ida Jo's “innovative violin work and her soulful vocals” (AV Club), at turns crooning and belting. “Her voice has the vibrancy of Adele with the soul of Joss Stone. It has the color of history” (Relate Magazine). She uses her violin for everything from rhythm, with her signature "chopping", to melody, ambience and texture. Her playing is "masterful and unexpected" (Emmie Music Magazine).
Lyrically, For Better For Worse continues Ida Jo's search for substance in her life and work. The song Glory is about finding value in one's profession. "I woke up as a painter/Thinking it could be enough for me", she sings, hopeful that a vocation can translate to greater meaning. But as the song continues, she changes careers and explores the value of work like writing and singing. It seems there is no simple answer.
"Does it ever play out as expected?" she asks in the title track as she takes a step back to gain some perspective. All signs point to no as she guides us through other songs like Juggling, the unvarnished story of a family who has fallen on hard times.
In the angelic finale City That Dreams, Ida Jo allows what may be a brief glimpse inside her head. Patient and airy, the song explores the elusive nature of happiness and art. We are forever flirting with the unexpected, and whether we are happy or heartbroken, we are never more than a moment from a reversal. "It's not what it seems", she sings, "In the city of dreams".
Even as Ida Jo explores the depths of her art and life for meaning and direction, she seems at peace, or at least comfortable with her role as a musician. Sometimes it is glamorous, sometimes hopeless. "All is as it should be," concludes the title track, "for better, for worse."
Uncharted was made possible by the generous support of many through Kickstarter. Check out the project here.
Ida Jo, Uncharted - 2012
Discovery. Bravery. Self. Uncharted, Ida Jo's 3rd album in as many years finds her in pursuit of all these things.
Led as always by Ida Jo's “innovative violin work and her soulful vocals” (AV Club), Uncharted is expressive and groove-oriented, bearing the marks of the southern rock and folk that influenced her. (Think of artists like Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and The Band.) “Her voice has the vibrancy of Adele with the soul of Joss Stone. It has the color of history.” (Relate Magazine) Also present are the subtlety and grace of her background in classical violin. Add to that a healthy amount of individuality and stubborn indie spirit and you begin to get an idea of her sound. “Ida Jo's voice is refined enough to conjour reflection and edgy enough to stir agitation...” (Isthmus Daily Page)
Thematically, Uncharted is focused on the pursuit of self, no matter how difficult the road may be. “The uncharted takes fortitude and bravery” she sings in the title track. We have to sacrifice and struggle if we want to blaze a new trail and be who we are meant to be.
On violin, Ida Jo employs a seldom heard technique that is the combination of a folk fiddle style called "chopping" and her extensive classical training. She plays the rhythm, the harmony and sometimes even the melody at the same time. What it ends up sounding like is beyond explanation and without comparison, somewhere between an acoustic guitar and an orchestra. She is one of only a handful of violinists in the world to play in the style. It has been praised as "masterful and unexpected" (Emmie Music Magazine), "inventive yet accessible," (AV Club - Madison) and "avoiding rootsy fiddle or orchestral indie clichés" (The Isthmus).
Just as on her previous releases, Ida Jo continues to push the musical and lyrical boundaries of pop music. In a world where most pop music marries predictable chord structures to even time signatures (4/4), Ida Jo embraces quite the opposite. Many songs are in 5/4, an odd time signature usually reserved for contemporary jazz or electronic music. Ida Jo uses the rarity to her advantage, creating a groove and flow you never hear in pop music.
Praise for Uncharted:
"There's something refreshing about the record..." Isthmus Daily Page 3/12
"With a voice as gripping as Grace Slick’s of Jefferson Airplane and lyrics that are both hopeful and revealing, Ida Jo’s album has plenty of tracks that will resonate with the Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch fans among us." Badger Herald 10/12
"The singer’s third album, “Uncharted,” is her most effortless to date..." 77 Square 11/12
"Another spoken bit, “Loan” opens the record impressively, leading into “Who You Are,” the album’s standout track that demonstrates Ida Jo’s pop sensibilities and uniquely personal delivery." Local Sounds Magazine 11/12