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CD REVIEW:

8 CIRCLES
Jo Potter

Review by Michael Jacobson

Jo Potter is such a good songwriter, it wouldn't matter if she couldn't sing a note.  Likewise, her voice is so impressive, it wouldn't make a difference if she couldn't write.  But she's a complete package, and there's no point in complaining how unfair that is.

Complaints are the last thing on my mind when listening to her independent release 8 Circles.  This is an album by an artist completely comfortable in her own skin.  Her songs are confident and her voice is fearless, boasting strength one moment and expressing vulnerability in the next.  The sixteen tunes are direct and pure, with a clean straightforward production that lets the power of the songs speak for themselves, unlike many of today's releases where the production is too clever by half to cover up the fact that the performer has nothing to say.

What's instantly striking about Jo's sound is how truly timeless it is.  That's a word that gets thrown around too carelessly these days, but it's the most perfect adjective here.  While listening, I realized I could have been hearing this album for the first time in 1975, 1985, or 1995 just as easily as 2005.  The music would have been just as immediate in any of those decades as it is today.  That's because Jo doesn't follow conventions.  If anything, the conventions seem to be following her.  You could have put out "All I Need to Know" any year in the last 30 and it would have been one of the top ten best songs of that year...yes, it really is that good.

From the blues rock attitude of "Walk Away" to the infectious "Round and Round", from the heartfelt "Valentine's Day Song" to the completely haunting "I Am Missing You", from the passionate a capella of "You Won't See Me Cry" to tunes like "Together" that go directly to the part of your spinal column that keeps your feet from staying still, Jo sings about fulfillment and longing, of finding and losing love, and mostly about being true to your heart no matter what life throws your way.  Whether it's the forward passion of "Burn" or the eloquent heartbreak of "Stay", her music reflects and inspires the most basic and purest of human emotions, so much that 8 Circles might just sound like someone wrote a soundtrack to go along with your life. 

But as I mentioned, if she didn't pen such striking songs, her voice alone would demand attention.  Here's the point where I might normally say she reminds me of (fill in the blank), but Jo hasn't followed in any obvious footsteps.  She doesn't sound like anyone but herself, which makes her poised to set trends rather than subscribe to them.  She commands her voice like any master musicians would their instruments, and the way she can flow effortlessly from a hair-raising powerful rasp to a quiet, tender purr is stunning.  You may not be able to describe her as the next (insert name here), but it wouldn't surprise me if aspiring female singers in the future get described as the next Jo Potter.

Just for fun, I'm going to go ahead and throw out three predictions about her.  One, she's going to be signed by a big label, and very soon.  Two, every record label that could have signed her and didn't will be kicking themselves...there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Three, I believe Jo will become one of the most sought after singers to perform a duet with.  Everyone is going to want to sing with her.  Few will be able to keep up with her vocal prowess, but hey...that will be their problem, not hers.

8 Circles offers a generous serving of one of music's freshest and most inspiring original voices.  Jo Potter is more than ready to make her mark on the music of today, and when it happens, both it, and we, will be much better off.

To learn more about Jo Potter or to order 8 Circles, visit her website at www.jopotter.com

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