You live in Birmingham, you like poetry. Therefore you know Jodi Ann Bickley. Her work as the host and founder of the Speak Up nights is exemplary. Her style is somewhere between Poeticat and Polarbear; monologue based, observational, with a deceptively simple internal rhyming scheme so expertly woven into the narrative fabric it’s like it’s not even there but aha it is! and the most earnest voice above the age of twenty; she sounds like a zero-bullshit chat with a good friend in a kitchen somewhere. The brum twang is a bonus.
You live in Birmingham, you like acoustic music, therefore you know and love Poppy Tibbetts. Her song writing’s from the school of acerbic wit, a la Alex Turner on the first Arctic Monkey’s album, and like Alex it’s neither forced or tired. Imagine if Laura Marling decided to write more songs like New Romantic and you would not be far off.
Their self titled EP is a masterclass at playing to strengths, with Jodi on verses and Poppy on guitar and sweet yet cutting choruses. And hats off; they got so much right on the first go: both artists complement each other perfectly, neither overpowering the other or stepping too far back into the background (honesty, there hasn’t been a finer pairing since Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre; they’re the Good Cop Bad Cop of folk. ). The urgent acoustic melodies balance well with Jodi’s gentle spoken word delivery, and Poppy’s chorus provides the pay-load; it all sounds so effortless. Listen to one of their tracks, Night Out.
There are niggles: Jodi and Poppy co-appear on only two of the four tracks. The other two are solo outings, which feels like cheating; their solo material isn’t bad -far from it- I just wanted more of the other stuff. Jodi’s voice could’ve a little higher on the co-tracks, which is odd, seeing as her poem Drive Home is of the right volume. Which is a shame; her narratives suck you in wholly into their world; to have to strain your hearing to stay with her is frustrating to say the least. Not a deal breaker, just arrgh.
Still, as a first release, this is a revelation, an amazing little gem; four songs that could quietly become your favourites. Cheeky, welcoming, smart and not a little bit heart stirring, the potential for future releases is immense. Imagine what an album would sound like!
Buy Poppy Tibbets and Jodi Ann Bickley here