CommonSpace music writer Jonathan Rimmer reviews a new EP from Jo Mango
THERE’S an argument to be made that art is most essential when it reflects modern life. It’s in that spirit that singer-songwriter Jo Mango releases her new EP ‘Wrack Lines’, with a little help from her friends.
Collaborating with Rachel Sermanni, RM Hubbert, Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow) and The Pictish Trail for tracks on the EP, Jo is donating all profits made to Creative Carbon Scotland.
The move is inspired by her own carbon footprint, generated by thousands of miles of travel during the last festival season. It’s a thoughtful move from a thoughtful artist. Each track here is meditative in its own way, presenting singular images and moments in an impressionistic manner.
On ‘The Sky Exploded’ for example, the only exclusively solo track on the record, Jo reimagines a road trip through Arizona with only her guitar plucking along for company.
The other tracks here, augmented by her friends’ contributions, feel just as intimate, conveying her lonesome on-the-road experiences. The aptly named ‘Loneliness and Rhythm’ sees her trading vocals with Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott alongside six minutes of subtle piano lines and wandering acoustics.
On ‘Sustain’, Jo’s voice feels so close you can practically feel her breath, as she asks the listener, “what to do but follow on and hope”.
These moments are frequent on the EP, and are always unerringly beautiful. Though the songs are personal – not to mention, Jo’s voice is noticeably well at the forefront of the mix – nothing is too intrusive or out of taste.
Despite its ethical motivations, there’s nothing patronising about Jo Mango’s rhetoric.
‘Believe Me I Know’, the upbeat collaboration with The Pictish Trail, is the only noticeable deviation due to its male-led vocal harmonies.
Though the EP is arranged less cohesively than her own albums, her clarity and personality as a songwriter shine through on every track. Despite its ethical motivations, there’s nothing patronising about Jo Mango’s rhetoric.
‘Wrack Lines’ is an evocative, and occasionally startling, depiction of her own experiences.
Sometimes, that’s all art needs to be.
Picture courtesy of Jo Mango & Friends