Review – Jo Beth Young – Broken Spells

“Music does more than soothe the soul, it brings balance to the mind, body and spirit.”

I believe that music is created for more than just financial gain and fame and glory, the true musicians can’t help but write songs that come from their heart and soul. Some of them just write for themselves, a happy coincidence that people will cherish what they have conceived.

I am a long time lover of music that moves me, tests me and takes me to a different place and a long time admirer of Jo Beth Young, one of those people who creates music as art, music that makes you think and music that permeates your very soul.

Jo Beth has anew album out, ‘Broken Spells’, and it would be very remiss of me if I didn’t tell you why you should just go out and buy it, it really is that good.

But, first, the story behind the music…

“Welcome to a world of electro-folk, dreamy, progressive and sometimes gut punching tracks from Neo-folk singer/songwriter and musician Jo Beth Young. ‘Broken Spells’ does not shy away from diving straight into difficult and deeper themes such as overcoming narcissistic abuse (Wolf Song) the lies that lead a soldier into war (Lazuli) spiritual warfare (Adversity) a collective book-of-revelations-style warning (Burning) themes of guilt and wrongdoing for an upcoming film soundtrack (Standstill) and ultimate truths being revealed in (Ockham’s Razor) to name a few.”

Over the four years she spent making it, Jo Beth went from “confirmed life-long” pagan and non dualist to a born again Christian, a radical journey she says can be heard in the songs as they unfold.  

Jo Beth says: “I think I was questioning absolutely everything in life when I started this album. What was happening in the media, the government, the World and to us as beings. I  was also looking into what was happening inside of me. This meant asking myself deep questions such as whether for all my beliefs I was a good person? Had I been corrupted in any way? Did I need to purify my intentions in life? Looking at the World I started asking, does evil really exist? And if it does, does that mean the opposite must also exist and be true?” 

“I started to see that there was something bigger than personal and physical conflict going on, that there was indeed a bigger spiritual war at play. I came to realise that spells are everywhere. When we believe anything we’re told or is spoken over our life, that is a spell in itself. I was exploring how I could break these? How we could find truth and clarity? I think that’s really the living impetus behind the songs; Seeking truth and breaking strongholds and illusions.

Unlike anything Jo Beth has attempted before, this record has her hand in it from conception to mixing and features stunning performances from regular contributors Peter Yates on Guitars (Fields Of The Nephillim) Ben Roberts on Cello (Silver Moth/Prosthetic Head) Jules Bangs on Bass (Herija) as well as a guest appearances from her Nightsong colleague John Reed (Steel Guitar) and band member Jay Newton (Abrasive Trees) on Piano.  

Along with her diverse and accomplished vocals (which are very much forefront) Jo Beth plays a multitude of instruments on the record, from acoustic and electric guitars, pianos, keys and synths, bowed guitars, home made percussion and field recordings including a recording of her washing machine in ‘Kinder Sea’. This time she experiments with loops and beats with the help of another long term collaborator; Alpujarra based Producer and Musician Matt Blackie (Spain). 

So you can see that Jo Beth puts everything of herself into the music and you can tell, incredibly intricate storytelling, haunting music and Jo’s breathy, delicate vocals, reminiscent of the legendary Kate Bush, all combine to deliver something quite unique and completely irresistible. The trio of tracks that open the album, Wolf Song, Standstill and Ockham’s Razor are as powerfully compelling as anything you will hear this year and take you through a whole gamut of emotions and musical styles. The traditional folk and world music roots of Jo’s music are still there but she ventures out into electronica and gives a classy nod to progressive rock, especially on Ockham’s Razor.

An album that makes the most of what you don’t hear and leaves space for the music to breathe, it is a true thing of beauty and, like all the best albums, it doesn’t give up all of its secrets at once but there is joy to be had in returning to this amazing creation and picking up additional motes of charm and delight. The edgy, thoughtful wonder of Burning, the wistful, lighter than air delight of Brigid, it’s a collection of wondrous, ethereal pieces of music that glimmer with the creative skill of a musician at the top of her game. A personal favourite of mine is the beautiful melancholia of Lazuli where Ben Roberts cello joins Jo’s achingly heartfelt vocal in delivering a song that literally stirs your very soul.

I love the contemplative nostalgia of Mechanical Ballerina, the darker edge to Adversity and the slow burning brilliance of Kinder Sea with it’s old world folk meets modern progressive rock feel. Sadly, all too soon, this gorgeous collection of songs comes to a close with the brief but lush statement of Night Voyage, another superbly written track.

After four years Jo Beth Young has returned with an immaculately created and conceived album of pure wonder and musical genius. A piece of music of, and for, the ages and possibly the best album that Kate Bush never released.

Released 1st March, 2024.

Order the album here:

Broken Spells – JO BETH YOUNG

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