Cycle Grace Pulse Break

Jo Bywater

Music review by Richard Lewis 24/3/2011

Reviving the art of the DIY CD, a theme that extends to the artwork, Jo Bywater’s debut mini-album, Cycle Grace Pulse Break, sees the Yorkshire-born, Liverpool-based singer-songwriter accompanied by a lone acoustic guitar. The playing by turns violent and tender, backs a voice that recalls Janis Joplin and Throwing Muses’ Kristen Hersh, the guitar work strongly evoking 1970s era Neil Young, acoustic blues riffs that are submerged during the verses and sparking into life between choruses. Recorded in a single, day-long session, reminiscent of The Beatles’ or Husker Du’s marathon taping stints, the limited release described as “1000 copies of money saved, nights stayed in, food rations (and) really, really hard work” proves the adage that creative types must suffer for their art is still alive and well.

‘Ropeladder,’ the strongest track here, hinging on a tumbling, descending riff recalls Patti Smith in its complex narrative and soulful howl of a vocal. The tracks, clocking in at around the six minute mark for each, justify their length due to the long verses. A more than competent guitarist, Bywater succeeds in creating dynamics within the tracks on a single instrument, beginning with the central riff, moving on to several melodic diversions, before returning effortlessly to the main theme. ‘Fast Ant,’ the vocal built around a loping riff dimly reminiscent of The Verve’s modern blues classic ‘Life’s an Ocean’, revolves around an enigmatic lyric featuring the lines, “You forget I’m older/Than what you’re used to/You can pull the wool/But I wear you like a jumper.”

Elsewhere, ‘Scratch the Surface’ shares the same late sixties atmosphere captured on early Crosby, Stills and Nash songs such as ‘Guinevere’ simultaneously pretty and dark, a sensation that all is not well beneath the sweet guitar accompaniment. Concluding with the reflective ‘Wave’, containing the lyric that supplies the LP’s title, the hardships that Jo endured to pull this album together prove to have been more than worthwhile.

To buy copies of the album and all other information, visit
‘Cycle Grace Pulse Break’ is also available at News from Nowhere

Jo plays Insurrection: City of Radicals at FACT on Saturday 9th April.
Visit the Nerve Centre blog for more details.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed