After four hugely acclaimed, much loved albums with Doves (two No.1s, two Platinum, two Gold, two Mercury nominations) followed by the career-spanning Best of compilation, Jimi Goodwin is releasing his first solo album.
After their last release in 2010, Doves all agreed they needed a break. “We never said we’d split,” clarifies Jimi, “but we all needed some time to go off and do our own thing for a while. I’d never rule out us coming back together again either. Never say never. But this is what I’m concentrating on at the moment… and I’m loving it”.
A wonderful, deeply personal album that is impossible to pigeonhole and will surprise a few people, Odludek is the first record great record of 2014. It boasts brilliant, panoramic, visceral, soul-searching tracks that are true siblings to Doves’ oeuvre, especially lead single ‘Oh! Whisky’; a few magnificent curveballs like ‘Man vs Dingo’, which sounds like Tom Waits and Black Grape-era Shaun Ryder trapped in a lift with Talking Heads, Gorillaz and The Roots; and a few that segue between the two.
If there was a starting point for the record, it was the idea of an old school mixtape. Anyone lucky enough to receive a handcrafted tape from Jimi over the years will testify to his diverse, catholic tastes and Odludek is a heady mystic brew steeped in Northern Soul, Southern gospel, hip-hop, psychedelica, ambient, krautrock, dub, funk and acid house. “I wanted it to be like that crazy mixtape you’d make your mate which had everything from Duke Ellington to some mad hip-hop track you’d just heard, and back again,” says Jimi. “That’s how I listen to music, and I wanted to make an album that reflected that. The last thing I wanted it to sound like was some geezer who was in a band. I don’t like being pegged.”
Odludek is a Polish word, meaning loner or pilgrim. It fits the album, and fits where Jimi is at the moment. “I’m no hermit, but I can be on that loner vibe at times. Odludek just sounded like a crazy, loner pilgrim to me, and it reflects that I did this record all on my own, I’m not in a band now.”
Jimi wrote and played almost everything on Odludek himself. “Initially I wanted to have loads of guests on it. Maybe I wasn’t trusting my own instincts because I’d collaborated in a band for such a long time, but that idea soon went out the window. Very quickly I decided I wanted to get my Prince head on and play everything. I became very protective of it. There was no-one steering me. I made it myself and paid for it myself, and that was very free and liberating.”
Recorded over 18 months in a friend’s studio in The Forest of Dean, co-produced by Dan Austin (who co-produced Kingdom of Rust) with guest slots from Guy Garvey, Fredrik Bjorling (ex-Dungen), Jake Evans, Joe Roberts, and a brass section, Odulek, like the best Doves albums, is a complex record which reveals another layer on each listen. The opening blast of ‘Terracotta Warrior’ is a statement of intent that this may not be the album you expected. The sublime ‘Didsbury Girl’ Jimi has had since 2004, “It just kept knocking at my door, and wouldn’t leave me alone”. ‘Live Like A River’ is “Queens of the Stone Age meets rave, it could have been the single for me, as it sums up the record”. ‘Man vs Dingo’ is a stream of consciousness rant which is new territory for Jimi, “I wanted to do a shouty Johnny Clarke meets Shaun Ryder rant, as I’ve never done one. The closest thing I ever did in Doves was the disorientated middle bit in Black and White Town”. Lead single ‘Oh! Whisky’ is reminiscent of ‘There Goes The Fear’ in Jimi’s imitable skill of underpinning a euphoric, anthemic track with wistful, melancholia, this time wrestling the demons of drink. ‘Lonely At The Drop’ is another melancholic anthem that could be the older, weather-beaten brother of ‘Caught By The River’.
After years of promising each other, Jimi also finally managed to collaborate with old friend Guy Garvey on ‘Panic Tree’, a heart touching ode to father-son relationships, inspired by 1920s Texan gospel singer Washington Philips. “Guy and I always vowed to work together and I played him an old Washington Philips track called ‘Lift Him Up, That’s All’ and we said, ‘When we finally get a chance to do something together, that will be the springboard.’” When they did eventually get in the studio, they clicked immediately and ended up with three songs drafted in an afternoon. “I played Guy the demos, which had the rough melodies and first lyric drafts, and within two hours they were more or less finished. That’s how quick it was. We’re just dead simpatico. We really connect, and he just got where I wanted to go.”
Jimi is currently putting together a band to tour Odludek and joins Elbow on their forthcoming UK arena tour in April. “I feel like I’ve been in hibernation, and now I’m emerging out in to the sunlight again, and it feels great.”