Joanne Stacey is a Canadian singer-songwriter with a wealth of experience in the music business and even more dedication to making music. Her latest album ‘My September’ was released in November 2014 and is a wholly enjoyable collection of newly-penned traditional-sounding Country songs, with a modern sheen. Joanne’s bio reveals that when not busy performing / recording her own material the singer can be found teaching & mentoring other aspiring vocalists. Listening to the album this should not come as a surprise, possessing a big powerful voice there must be much that this lady can pass on to those learning their craft.
Album opener ‘That’s What Patsy Would Do’ is a joyous track, a mid-tempo shuffle drowned in steel guitar and featuring a suitably sassy vocal delivery from Joanne. Oh-so cleverly weaving well known Patsy Cline song titles into its’ lyrics the song deservedly won a bronze award in December from the Global Music Awards. Gloriously nostalgic ‘The Man’ joins an old man reflecting back over his life, recalling his struggles and triumphs. Gently paced and benefiting greatly from heavy use of musical trio fiddle, mandolin & dobro the song captures those ‘coming of age’ moments perfectly.
A modern edge is added to the album on the banjo-driven, percussion heavy and rocking ‘When The Honeymoon Is Over’. Bolstered by atmospheric backing vocals Joanne cuts loose on this tale of a woman who refuses to settle down once that initial magic in a relationship has passed, and sings up a storm. ‘Let Love Do Ya’ is a far sweeter cut than its’ title would suggest, promoting the benefits of falling in love. Sadly it fails to offer anything particularly original, also the rhyming of the title with ‘hallelujah‘ cannot help but feel a little clunky.
Much better is ‘The Scent Of A Good Man’, covering similar themes but with far stronger lyrics and an appealing lazy, sensual feel. Listing those fragrances which the singer associates with her beau conjures up images of spending time with that special someone, and also provides a few good tips for us guys! The wholesome nature of the previous tracks is wonderfully opposed by the cracking ‘Karma’s A Bitch’ and its irreverent tale of a man diagnosed with a terminal condition. The total change in his outlook on life leads him, amongst other things, to ‘have an affair with a TV anchor, but he ended it when she asked him to spank her‘. Even a dying man has his limits it seems in this thrilling track, complete with fabulous big electric guitar riffs.
Contender for finest song here ‘I Can’t Breathe’ is an utterly gorgeous ballad. Finding the singer struggling to get over a recent heartbreak, this stripped-down track is all the more powerful for its’ sparseness. Acoustic guitar, dobro, fiddle and Joanne showing what an accomplished vocalist she truly is, all combine to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. With a southern-bluegrass flavour ‘He Loves Her Still’ is another example of the strong story-telling on ‘My September’, featuring fascinating characters throughout it is to Stacey’s credit that she has clearly worked hard to maintain originality to her material.
‘Weeping Willow’ which likens a tormented young woman to the titular tree feels like it should not work but one listen of this tender track, with its’ swirling fiddle & dobro convinces you otherwise. Brave subject matter, handled sensitively by Joanne and sung with true emotion ‘Weeping Willow’ will stay with you long after its final note. Title track ‘My September’ has more than a hint of an autobiographical tale about it, as Joanne sings of the realisation later in life that there were reasons for those challenges we face which make us the person whom we become in our ‘sweet September‘. Boasting another magnificent vocal performance, making it clear that the singer believes every single word, this exquisite track is underpinned by glorious mandolin picking.
A cappella bonus track ‘Lonesome Rambler’ closes the album and, just in case you were undecided on the previous 10 songs, is proof positive that Joanne Stacey has one heck of a voice. This religious-themed cut packs a punch on a number of levels but none more than with that scorching vocal from Joanne.
‘My September’ is clearly a labour of love and Joanne Stacey is one of those people born to sing. Her determination, hard work and skill as a songwriter has seen her produce a Country album of real quality. Refreshingly her music leans heavily towards a more traditional sound, but tracks such as ‘When The Honeymoon Is Over’ & ‘Karma’s A Bitch’ show that this lady is also in tune with the modern sounds on the scene, which should help to broaden her audience even further. Pairing this with well-written & absorbing songs, and not to mention a wonderful voice, makes this collection a real winner. ‘My September’ is available now on iTunes UK.