Jodi — „Blue Heron“ (Nov. 19, 2021)

USA FLAG                                                                                               Jodi — „Blue Heron“ (Nov. 19, 2021)
λ  Jodi je alter ego zpěváka a skladatele Nicka Levina, který byl až do loňského „Marigold“ multiinstrumentalistou v Pinegrove. Hluboce silné v oblasti psaní písní — série intimních a pozoruhodně přítomných momentů. Připomínají: Jason Molina, Mount Eerie, Duster a Julie Doiron.
λ  Navzdory velkým myšlenkám ve hře jsou Levineovy texty častěji intimní a mezilidské, načrtávají scény definované úzkostí a touhou. Jeho první slova na albu jsou „Říkáš něco špatného/ Udělal jsi to pro smích, kterého se ti nedostalo.“ Na konci této písně — skladby s názvem „Power“, která se otřásá tvrději, než umožňuje její úsporné, posmutnělé aranžmá — Levine „natahuje ruce a hledá něco silného a měkkého“. Hlavní singl „Go Slowly“ začíná přímou adresou — „Stresuje tě tahle párty?“ — a odtud se něžně převaluje, Levineovy vokální melodie se uvolňují proti postupu akordů s neobyčejnou grácií. Album pokračuje takto stručně 29 minut, Levinea škádlí jakýkoli význam, který může, prostřednictvím živě vykreslených dialogů a obrazů. Připadá mi to jako miniaturní arthouse film o dospívání.
λ  Tímto způsobem a mnoha dalšími hudba odráží Levinovu předchozí práci s Pinegrove. Je přirozené vidět Blue Heron jako rozšíření malé galaxie satelitních aktů této kapely nebo dokonce alternativu pro bývalé fanoušky, které před několika lety odradil Hallův matoucí skandál (co dál, Matty Healy). Ale stejně jako v případě Nandi Rose’s Half Waif z Pinegrove, Jodi je až příliš dokonalý na to, aby byla oprášen jako vedlejší projekt pro kapelu někoho jiného. Na tak temného a interiérového skladatele zní Levine velmi připravený na světlo reflektorů.

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Album release: July 16, 2021
Record Label: Sooper Records
Duration:     29:33
01. Power   3:33
02. Go Slowly   4:40
03. Get Back   2:46
04. Hawks   3:31
05. Slug Night   2:07
06. Buddy   3:11
07. Softy   2:38
08. Water   1:18
09. River Rocks   1:32
10. Blue Heron   4:17
made at Lazybones Audio in Silsbee, TX
produced and mixed by Tommy Read and Nick Levine
engineered and mastered by Tommy Read
additional tracking done in Kinderhook, NY, Tillson, NY, and Bloomfield, NJ
Andrew Stevens plays drums on tracks 1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10
Adan Carlo plays bass on track 2, synth on track 7, and electronic drums on track 10
Zack Levine plays drums on track 4
Tommy Read plays 12~string guitar on track 1 and piano on track 10
additional piano on track 4 by Jeremiah Read
all else performed by Nick Levine
photos by Jordyn Belli
lettering by Krusty Wheatfield
tattoo and illustration by Eachna McGraw
all songs by Nick Levine / Joy of Cooking (ASCAP)

Review by CHRIS DEVILLE JULY 13, 2021 11:42 AM  ■  Album Of The Week
λ  Jodi is an alter ego for singer~songwriter Nick Levine, who was a multi~instrumentalist in Pinegrove up through last year’s Marigold. Listen through their debut album Blue Heron without any prior knowledge and you could probably figure that much out. An air of pensive melancholia, loosely drawling vocals, diaristic lyrics about deep feelings and fateful interactions: The imprint of Levine’s former band is unmistakable in these songs, even more so than on Jodi’s 2017 EP Karaoke.
〉   …Yet Jodi is also Levine’s own thing, with its own twist on literate, sensitive indie rock. Levine, who is nonbinary, calls their music “,” which, sure, OK. There’s certainly some twang in there. Levine is operating in an emo~adjacent folk~rock space somewhere near Slaughter Beach, Dog’s Jake Ewald, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, and Lomelda’s Hannah Read (whose brother and collaborator Tommy co~produced Blue Heron in the Reads’ hometown of Silsbee, Texas). Collectively, it is the sound of twentysomethings working through heavy feelings one tastefully sighing guitar ballad at a time.
λ  For Levine, that process involved multiple encounters with a great blue heron, which led to an epiphany about chance’s role in creative expression and, more broadly, the meaning of life. Levine first crossed paths with the bird while writing these songs, an experience that “pulled me out of a spiral,” they explain in the album’s official bio. “Maybe you’re not in the amount of control that you think and that’s actually a good thing. There’s so much life happening outside of your head and that’s really grounding to remember.” Another heron showed up during the recording sessions for the album, which Levine took as a sign that they were on the right track. The impact was so profound that they got the heron tattooed on their back and climbed into a freezing pond in Chicago — where they’re now based full~time after years shuttling between the Midwest and East Coast — to create the album’s cover art.JODI ©Jordyn Belli
λ  This origin story is laid out at the end of the album on the title track, which culminates like so: “Great blue heron in the lake swimming/ You’re on your back now/ Trying to find a place to meet friends/ But they’re all closing down/ But is it really so bad to be floating around/ Come on Jodi, get it right/ Work it out/ Don’t let me down.” With that, the gentle, spiky arpeggios that have carried the music along are joined by a lush procession of sounds — dark~tinted electric guitar, delicate piano twinkles, swelling pedal steel — before the whole arrangement scales back into nothingness. It’s a wistful and beautiful finale, one of many spectacular sequences on the album where the music says at least as much as the words.
λ  Despite the big ideas at play, Levine’s lyrics are more often intimate and interpersonal, sketching out scenes defined by anxiety and longing. Their first words on the album are “You say something bad/ You did it for a laugh you didn’t get.” By the end of that song — a track called “Power” that rocks harder than its sparse, plaintive arrangement lets on — Levine is “reaching with my hands out, looking for something powerful and soft.” Lead single “Go Slowly” starts with a direct address — “Does this party stress you out?” — and rolls along tenderly from there, Levine’s vocal melodies easing up against the chord progression with uncommon grace. The album continues like this for a concise 29 minutes, Levine teasing out whatever meaning they can through vividly rendered dialogue and imagery. It feels like a coming~of~age arthouse movie in miniature.
λ  In that way and many others, this music echoes Levine’s previous work with Pinegrove. It’s natural to see Blue Heron as an extension of that band’s small galaxy of satellite acts or even an alternative for former fans who were turned off by Hall’s confusing scandal a few years ago (what up, Matty Healy). But as with fellow Pinegrove affiliate Nandi Rose’s Half Waif, Jodi is far too accomplished to be brushed off as a side project for someone else’s band. For such a shadowy and interior songwriter, Levine sounds very much ready for the spotlight. —
By Matt Mitchell ■ JULY 21 2021 ■ Score: 5.8
SF: h