Prolific New Zealand singer/songwriter, Jamie McDell, releases a self titled album to add to her already well received musical catalogue. Jamie’s crisp vocals and novel Country sound are a refreshing addition to the Country music scene. She stays just the right side of Country rail tracks pleasing the traditionist of Country music lovers but adds her own style to offer something different.
The song content deals with trials and tribulations of life and her personal outlook on dealing with them and her exceptional and distinctive voice together with the wide variety of guitar effects make this album a great listen. There isn’t a weak track and the music is substantially diverese offering individuality ranging from cheery to confessional but all heartrendingly honest.
Jamie's heartfelt single “Not Ready Yet”, produced by Nash Chambers, is reminiscent of the 90s groove of The Chicks. McDell explained, "I had mumbled the falsetto chorus melody into my voice memos before jumping into a session with my producer Nash and Phil Barton. The lyrics came from a place of comfort in not knowing what’s next for me and taking my time to figure it out. Motherhood is something I want in the future, something that I’m really looking forward to if I’m to be so lucky. But I’m not ready yet and maybe, in today’s world, that is all I should need to say.”
This is McDell's fourth studio album and was recorded in Nashville, with the gifted singer-songwriter teaming up with Nash Chambers in his eastside studio. It also drew on the amazing musical talents of Dan Dugmore, Jedd Hughes, Dennis Crouch, Shawn Fichter, Jerry Roe, Jimmy Wallace, Tony Lucido, and Ross Holmes, along with guests such as the McCrary Sisters, Robert Ellis, Erin Rae and Tom Busby (Busby Marou). This new long-player contains Jamie’s most brutally honest moments, in both writing and performance, while the musicians and production take you on a modern journey through 70s folk and Country, blended with a healthy dose of roots and rock.
Born in New Zealand, at the age of 7 McDell’s father left his job at an Auckland law firm to shift her mother, younger sister, and Jamie onto the high seas living aboard a yacht in the Mediterranean. It’s here Jamie wrote her first song, a sea shanty to the dolphins. Also on that yacht lived a small collection of her parents’ favorite cassette tapes, which luckily included albums by Jimmy Buffett, John Denver, and James Taylor. The young artist quickly formed a particularly strong bond with these records and she fondly remembers watching her parents perform Buffett duets, with Jamie occasionally chiming in. After learning how to harmonize with her mother, Jamie picked up the guitar studying her fathers’ John Denver chord book collection and has never looked back.
Now at age 28, Jamie McDell has achieved a prolific amount in her formative years. Being signed to EMI at age 16 sparked the beginning of her successful musical journey, making her a household name across her home nation. With the release of her debut album ‘Six Strings and a Sailboat’, she went on to achieve Gold album sales, receive three NZ Music Award nominations, winning Best Pop Album of 2013. Then her sophomore record ‘Ask Me Anything’ gained global attention, including having her track ‘Moon Shines Red’ featured on American TV series Pretty Little Liars. When Jamie’s deal with EMI ended, she left the commercial pop world, opting instead to go independent and travelled to the United States to record in Nashville.
In March 2017 Jamie made a trip to Nashville, looking for a change of scenery and to connect with the environment that birthed much of the music. It’s here she wrote the songs that would make up the fabric for her third record “Extraordinary Girl”. She met with expat Australian producer Nash Chambers for coffee one day and decided they shared the same musical values. Not long after that meeting McDell arranged to fund her first independent record “Extraordinary Girl”, which was recorded over the space of two days later in 2017 at House of Blues studio in Nashville. Her self-released album "Extraordinary Girl" was entirely self-written and more personal than her earlier albums. She then returned home for the albums’ release, promotion, and supporting tours throughout New Zealand and Australia.
In early 2019 Jamie relocated to Toronto, Ontario for a new chapter and to be closer to Nashville. It’s here she found herself sitting on the floor of her tiny apartment, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with a friend in a troubled relationship, and out came the powerful song, "Botox". “It’s a story depicting the dangers of silencing our instincts and compromising our values, just because a significant other has you convinced that you need fixing,” Jamie says. This track would then fuel a new era of unapologetic honesty in McDell’s songwriting, and the release of "The Botox" EP.
After opening a US tour for Robert Ellis (Texas Piano Man) in early 2020, Jamie made her return to Nashville to begin working on this new studio album. You will see why some make a comparison with Stevie Nicks as some tracks have a Fleetwood Mac flavour and her voice does bear some similarities but as a whole the album is totally Jamie McDell as she puts her own refreshing slant on the Country music genre.
From the opening bars of "Dream Team" you are enveloped in the warm Country style sound but the fuzzy guitar work sets a different tone , more Pink Floyd than Floyd Cramer. This is what Jamie as an artist does well, whether its foot tapping, sing along Country or melancholic ballad either vocally or with guitar she adds her own element to create her own delicious sound. Ringing guitar chords are backed by layers of keyboards, but the true stunner is McDell’s unforced voice, which has already led the Americana artist to gold certifications and award nominations in her native New Zealand.
Showcasing more richness and density than the typical banjo and fiddle endeavor, the album contains waves of haunting tremolo guitar, fuzzy squalls, heavy distortion and Jamie's keen sense for crafting rewarding, sometimes even dramatic, vocal melodies. It is the raw honesty of the vocal performance that will devastate you. McDell has had enough time in life to love, be hurt, and enough wisdome to know the difference between the glitter and the gold. In her sweet but still tough lead vocal you can hear the confidence, the pain, and the acceptance that only living can bring.
Jamie McDell's candid lyricism transforms mundane moments from real life into something worthy of a poetic approach which are raw and highly relatable. McDell beholds a unique ability to disguise devastating storylines behind her ethereal vocal dominant soundscapes. Endlessly enchanting, it’s a voice that comes around once in a generation.
Jamie McDell’s old soul shines through her folk-oriented songs, deeply rooted in an age old tradition. Her confessional storytelling presents a female narrative that is so critical to the modern Country music landscape. Give your ears a treat and listen to Jamie McDell's new self-titled album, they will thank you for an amazing encounter with this fast rising Country music star.