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Monday, 1 October 2012

Joolz - Hex

This is so evocative of the dark and dreary eighties indie underworld that you can almost smell the musty scent of second hand vinyl sleeves, cheap perfume and snake-bite. If you like the sound of a woman with a Yorkshire accent reciting menacing poetry with a New Model Army backing track, (and let's face it who doesn't?) then Joolz will definitely not disappoint. I remember listening to one Joolz track over and over in the eighties and this brings back all those memories, although sadly that song is not on the album.

Her poems are northern kitchen sink dramas each touched with the realisation that love is not a fairytale, but a harsh and enduring torture. They range from the annoying to the awe inspiring, but I guess that is generally the case with all poetry. Her delivery however, is surprisingly lovely, with an intelligence, passion and strength evident in every line. If you're expecting the gravel tonsilled, nicotine breath delivery of a South Yorkshire dinner lady, then this is an altogether more enticing and wholesome portrait of northern woman. You get the feeling that Joolz would be a great person to know; a wise and nurturing older sister who would probably be quite handy in a punch up.

There's too many duffers for this to be a great album, but it's definitely a strong good. The music is equally patchy, but adds an aroma of sweaty clog to every track, sometimes in a positive way and sometimes not so positive. 'Protection' races along in rabble rousing style, 'Legend' is a beautiful semi-religious experience with wordsmith skills to rank with 'proper' poets, and 'Storm' is a gothic tale of savagery and nocturnal fun. Best of all is the stunning 'Ambition' which sounds like an ethereal version of Billy Bragg if that's possible; it would have been out of place in any decade but it stands the test of time as a classic, awe inspiring piece of pop poetry.

If you're unaware of her work then this is as good a place to start as any. History seems to have forgotten her and she has no genre to sit comfortably inside, but she is one of our more unusual and cerebral artistes, producing a music that challenges as much as it pleases the ears. Check her out on YouTube then go and hunt down an album; you won't be disappointed.

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