jill sobuleKnown best for her inventive album compilations and controversial emotional lyrical content, Jill Sobule has once again produced a record with as much of an intriguing tale of its origins as it does its creation.

Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen were just some of the Denver, Colorado-born singer/songwriters influences growing up during the ’70s. But it was the contentious John Prince song about a Vietnam war veteran who returns as a drug addict; “The Ballad of Sam Stone”, that induced Sobule’s artistic foundations and subsequently catapulted her to success with tracks like “I Kissed A Girl” and “Supermodel” (released on the 1995 Movie Soundtrack Clueless).

When you hear Jill’s compelling lyrics through her unique storytelling you can understand why she is also an avid blogger. This emotional content; satire, humour and sometimes subjectivity, touches on intense themes such as the death penalty, shoplifting, homosexuality, fitness fanatics and anorexia (which she battled within her younger years).

After several label signings, in 2009 Sobule opened Pinko Records and released “California Years”, with the production by Don Was (recordings with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Ziggy Marley and John Mayer to name but a few). Unconventionally, Jill raised the capital for the release by receiving donations from her global fan base in exchange for gifts ranging from the completed disc to recording with her in the studio and appearing on the album.

It is no surprise then that this latest offering; ‘Dottie’s Charms’ has been written by ten of Jill’s favourite authors (yes, I said authors) and even with this interesting execution, the record still encapsulates the creativity that makes the artisan. Her inspiration was the thought that each charm represented an archive of someone’s life; Dorothy (the name etched into one of the charms). The charms took centre stage for each lyricist to entice and drive the artistic integrity of the effervescent musician. Being an advocate of her writing, it is a welcome change for Jill’s expressive guitar playing and musical abilities to be the topic of her critical acclaim.

The intriguing interchange between genres keeps me listening attentively; Country (bowing of the violin on “I Hate Horses”), Folk (bassoon type horns on “Women of Industry”), Indie (Brit-pop vocals over a plucked guitar on “Flight”) and a Blues/Jazz mix (castanets, drums, piano and plenty of bass on “My Chair”).

But, for me personally, there has been a special mark left by “O Canada”.  A very good friend had journeyed to Canadian shores leaving a fruitful life back in London and I often wondered what captivated her spontaneity. After receiving Sobule’s illustrative rendition; I can sincerely appreciate the reason she had such an admirable affection…….’ for “O Canada” you took her in’.

It would not be inappropriate of Jill Sobule to dedicate this album to Dottie, who has clearly lived a life less ordinary than most.