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Blues Music Magazine Review

18th January 2018
Big I Am

With many thanks to Art Tipaldi, Editor of the Blues Music Magazine for this fabulous Jo Harman review.

Jo Harman is blessed with a powerful and spellbinding voice and when paired with her extraordinary songwriting ability, the effect is magical indeed. Her latest record is a collection of 10 songs – all written or co-written by her – that further solidifies her reputation as the next British blues diva, but also demonstrates that she has further refined her gift for authoring haunting songs that can surprise and resonate. As on her earlier record, Dirt On My Tongue, Harman is willing to open a vein for the listener; the songs’ poetic details mark them as deeply personal. Here, she and her top-notch band chart the passing of a love affair through all the stages of her grief. As painful as this story seems to be, she tells it with such mystery and beauty that it’s hard to look away.
She begins with wistful hope on “No One Left To Blame,” declaring “Forget where we came from/Just look where we’re going/I’m never gonna give you up,” while admitting that “I’ve always played a dangerous game.” A few songs later, she is “desperately lonely,” searching for something to take away so she will not be left “Unchanged And Alone.” There is anger in “The Reformation,” with its mantra-like chant of “Hear me now,” but its energy allows acceptance to begin. With one of her most poignant images, she imagines carrying her lover over the threshold into the arms of another in “The Changing Of The Guard.” Even the sole up-tempo number, “When We Were Young,” a duet with The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald, has rueful lyrics. “But I always knew from this sense that I got/That we would fall through from this net up above/Cos when we were young all the worry was left for getting on.”
The record concludes with the almost unbearably sad “The Final Page” and the guilt-scarred “Lonely Like Me.” Without sentimentality, her exquisite voice wrings all the pathos from lyrics like “Nothing to say to me anymore/Nothing to talk about/Little to hold onto anymore/Back in the empty hall of my own heart,” and “Please, please forgive me/Forget me and live/I’ll be alright.” The emotional impact of the words is matched by the songs’ beautiful, evocative melodies. Several of Harman’s band members collaborated with her on the songs. Harman recorded the album in Nashville, and its productions values are as finely fashioned as can be. It’s an unforgettable piece of work”.
– Kay Cordtz, January 2018.