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JR Rhodes


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

JR Rhodes does not seem like a "type" of music. Atmospheric folk? Edgy pop? I gave up and looked to the Laurie Freelove page for inspiration. It said this, and I think that works just fine: evocative/eclectic alternative pop/folk. (7/00, neal)

Status:

Most recent release, Elixir, Vol. 1: The Best of JR Rhodes (compilation, 2013); most recent release of new material, AfriQueen Stare (2003)

See also:

JR Rhodes's site

CD Baby's jr page

Comparisons:

Her voice sounds remarkably like Toni Childs', though her music sounds pretty different. There are also hints (again vocally) of Marianne Faithfull, Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes), Laurie Freelove and Tracy Chapman. (neal)

Covers/own material:

Mostly own, very occasional co-writing, occasional covers

General comments:

JR Rhodes has a rich, rich voice and that and her electric guitar playing alone are enough to sustain songs, even the slow ones. Think Joan Osborne or Tracy Chapman (similar voice, though with a little more smoky/Marianne Faithfull) with a stripped-down/evocative electric guitar backup. (Neile)

Comments about live performance:

I have only heard JR Rhodes live a couple of times at "in the round" Persephone's Circle performances and other brief performances but she stands out as being a dynamic performer. I'd love to see a full-length concert. Soon. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

Any—all are impressive

Recordings:


the vision of the fool. ii (ep)

Release info:

1997—self-released—trvf2b

Availability:

See JR Rhodes's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of slow bluesy rock

Group members:

JR Rhodes—vocals, gitter

Guest artists:

Brad Houser—basses, rhodes, lead gitter on 1 track
Mike Dillon—tabla, vibes, percussive goodies & full rock drum kit on 1 track
Matt Chamberlain—taos drum kit on one track
Leif Totusek—gitter on 1 track

Produced by:

Brad Houser

Comments:

Great jazzy/folky/pop/rock from another member of Seattle's Persephone's Circle. She's got a throaty rich voice kind of like Joan Osborne, and the songs aren't that far from her earlier stuff, especially the way she uses her voice. Strong songwriting here, too, hooky and haunting. I've played this ep a lot, and recommend it highly. (Neile)

Songs of Angels

Release info:

1999—self-released

Availability:

See JR Rhodes's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

JR Rhodes—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Willow, Nancy Colton, Sarah Keenan, Kym Tuvin—back vocals
Brad Houser—bass, bass clarinet
Mike Dillon—drums, tabla, percussion
Lief Totusek—guitar
Dave Hill—drums
Eyvind Kang—violin
Brent Arnold—cello
Dara Quinn—keyboards
Stretch and Maitreya—meows

Produced by:

Brad Houser

Comments:

This album has taken a while to grow on me, but it hasn't been an unpleasant journey. What's taken time, for me, is that it's not a very melodic album. Right off the bat, I was intrigued by her rough voice and the atmospheric and world music touches in the arrangements. However, the songs are not the kind that I'll hum on the way to work. (Certainly not the be-all and end-all of song requirements, but if I can't get it out of my head, I'll definitely remember it.) I was told I wouldn't like this album because it was a folk album. I wasn't familiar with my bias against folk albums, but I also would not consider this to be folk music. There's a touch of world music in it, from the tabla on "Pray For Rain" to the rippling guitars (akin to a lot of African music, or maybe that's a Fripp influence?) that are all over the album. But these are just hints, and it is definitely not a world music album either. It has a very fluid sound, with the guitar lines nicely intertwining with the bass and drums, and additional instruments flesh out various songs. It's an album that rewards careful attention, as there is a lot going on in the instrumental interplay. (7/00, neal)

I also highly recommend this one—JR Rhodes uses her voice and her subtle songwriting to great effect here. (Neile)


AfriQueen Stare

Release info:

2003—self-released

Availability:

See JR Rhodes's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

J.R.—vocals, guitar, harmony vocals

Guest artists:

Paul Moore—Hammond (1)
Fred Chalenor—bass (2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12)
Mike Stone—drums (1-5, 8), percussion (3, 4, 9)
Eyvind Kang—viola (2)
Brent Arnold—cello (2, 4)
Mell Dettmer—drum programming (2, 3), Casio SK-1, Cymbal (4), sonick sculpting (10)
Aiko Shimada—harmony vocals (3, 4, 8, 12)
Paul Moore—Korg, piano (3), Rhodes (5)
Barbara Rhodes—harmony vocals (4)
Dave Carter—flugel horn (4)
Derek Brown—bass (4)
Elizabeth Pupo-Walker—percussion (5, 7)
Kym Tuvim—Hammond, Rhodes (6, 11)
Jenny Van West—harmony vocals, guitar (7)
Chris Mulhauser—lead guitar (7)
Alephrog Choir—harmony vocals (9,10)
Joel Tepp—slide guitar (9, 10, 11)
Naby Camara—balafon (12)
Matt Chamberlain—drums, electronic drums (12)

Produced by:

Mell Dettmer & J.R. Rhodes

Comments:

This is a powerfully emotional album, informed by the loss of J.R.'s sister. The songwriting here is strong—there are so many songs here that give me shivers. The title track is especially effective, and even J.R.'s blusey cover of "Landslide" is impressive amongst the plethora of covers of that song out there. I also love her setting of Langston Hughes's poem "A Dream Deferred." Really, this whole album is exceptionally good—for each song there's a reason to talk about how wonderful it is, and they add up to an album that deserves a lot more attention. Go to CD Baby and listen to the samples. You'll thank me. (Neile)

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