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JoJo Worthington – 7 – Album Review

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On JoJo Worthington’s January full-length release, 7: Let’s just say I did not know a ukulele could do that.

Worthington’s inventive use of the ukulele combined with her soft yet poignant voice and an ear for building up songs using both instruments and their players in the most aurally pleasing fashion makes for a divine listening experience.

Worthington produced the album with Brandon Pero of Inception Sound Studios in Toronto. 7 is as much an expression of Worthington’s heartfelt songwriting as it is her ability to connect with the same virtue in other artists. The record has an impressive player list including Kitchener blues duo The Vaudevillian and Toronto musician Tom Meikle. And the list of instruments the musicians played is just as lengthy, everything from the key guitar, bass and drums, to horns, organs, classical strings, steel guitar, washboard, harp, glockenspiel and of course ukulele.

The album is titled 7, the number of completion, Worthington notes. She says, “the album represents a journey of finding completion and satisfaction in life. As the audience progresses through each song, my hopes is for the listener to find some type of satisfaction and reassurance, contentment or a sigh of relief.”10661956_934621536551257_2897730997687718931_o

The eleven songs that make up 7 are as follows:

The Girl
I’m Home
Boo Radley ft. The Vaudevillan
The Gardener
Little Minstrel
The Pool of Bethesda
Adam & The Tree

The album begins with oceanic sounds ushering in the first track. “The Girl” is a stripped down duet between a girl and her ukulele. Instantly your ears are intrigued as the unfamiliar string melodies organically surround a lovely vocal arrangement. Next 7 moves into “Werewolf” and the listener is welcomed inside the hearth. The song is upbeat but still chill and more instruments start to get introduced. Guitar and horns inflate the track with Worthington’s charming howling in the chorus. “I’m Home” has a very old-school feel, it is more vocally inclined with some catchy whistling. The fourth song “Boo Radley” features old-time bluesy twosome Brendan J Stephens and Willow Walker as The Vaudevillian. Just like the Harper Lee character, it is mysterious and reveals itself through progression, not to mention the southern feel.

Halfway through the album we are returned to the ocean sound theme as nature’s music willfully compliments Worthington’s. “The Gardner” is 338207_341502885863128_2040378335_othe longest song 7 has at five and a half minutes. After we get a taste of the waters on inspiration slow ukulele picking starts with a haunting guitar tone coming in overtop. Later in the track a steel guitar vocalizes it’s presence and skillfully follows Worthington’s voice.

“Roots” starts off with a playful tapping that leads into a rhythmic melody. The vocals are light, both in pitch and in lyrical content accentuated by the album’s constant ukulele vertebrae. The track then kicks into a more powerful riff backed by a loaded instrumental slate. Meikle’s vocal harmonies pairing favourably with Worthington, the two voices switch from staccato to legato then finally bookending the song with tapping once again.

The track “Amadeus” begins with quick strumming and happy singing. The lyrics tell the story of a naive young couple who married too young. Instead of heartbreak, the tune takes the angle and tone of happiness, as the woman sings “Goodbye Amadeus” she is happy to be moving on with her life, the yearning for freedom symbolized by a driving guitar timbre. Worthington’s voice in “The Pool of Bethesda” is indelible, now familiar to the listener and reassuring to his/her ears, its guides the head through all encompassing instrumental swells and strong group vocals to a soft conclusion.

In finale, “Adam & The Tree.” We end at the beginning with the soothing sounds of oceanic bliss. Transitioned by effects from noise to sound, it’s hard to label the source but it is undeniably charming. The song proves to be holistically instrumental with no singing. It is reminiscent of an Ace Enders track, a subtle, understated masterpiece.

Overall, 7 can be at parts redundant, after all a ukulele only has four strings. Nevertheless what JoJo Worthington manages to create with them is imposing. The song composition is well thought out and Worthington’s image is on point, the way she presents herself is congruent with how her music sounds.

My heart can only find one word to completely and most accurately describe this album: beautiful.

Griffin Elliot