Reviewed by Bill Tokash
Out here in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. I’m lucky to have not just one, but two friends who are, like me, intense music lovers. Both of my friends enjoy hosting home concerts, and I benefit from the fact that we have quite a bit overlap on our tastes. So, it was with great anticipation that we all gathered last Friday night to see Jodee Lewis perform amongst a full house of neighborhood friends.
Jodee Lewis is a talented, authentic country singer songwriter who was raised in Osceola, Missouri in the Ozarks, but has lived in the Chicago area for the past two decades. She grew up influenced by her grandad’s guitar picking and love of Earl Scruggs and Lefty Frizzell. Jodee cites the legendary duo of Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris as early musical influences.
Her recent record release, Buzzard’s Bluff, alternates between gritty, bluesy twangers, soaring country ballads and a couple murder ballad themed songs that accentuate her prose-drenched lyrics and a smooth, wide-ranging, effortless vocal style that was quite extraordinary. This is no small comparison, but to me her voice reminds me of a slightly earthier version of Dolly Parton from the Dolly Porter era.
The highlights of the evening included the stark bluesy riffs underpinning Buzzard’s Bluff, Missouri, a sensuous ode to her father and her home state, and the ironic sentiments of Nothing Ever Really Changes (one of us should leave or maybe both of us should stay/nothing ever really changes anyway).
On It Aint’ Killed Me Yet, she lays in to a straight-up country heartbreak song dripping with self-resilience that should be a breakout hit. The brilliant chorus on this one highlights the emotional depth of her outstanding vocal range:
It’s hard to tell, but I’m still drawing breath
My broken heart’s still beating in my chest
And life don’t seem worth living since you left
But, baby, it ain’t killed me yet
Its five days later and I’ve still been playing Buzzard’s Bluff and her 2014 release, Whiskey Halo, which, by the way, would be a killer band name, front to back. Jodee has a number of tour dates planned this summer, and I would recommend making plans to get out and see her live when she comes near your town.
House That Was Never a Home
Waiting for the Smoke to Clear
Nothing Ever Really Changes
I Don’t Miss
St Claire Country
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Start Again Tomorrow
Valley of Vision
It Ain’t Killed Me Yet
From a Bottle
In the End
Thought the Flood May Rise