Monday, May 14, 2018

Music Review: Love Notes by Caitlin Jemma

Back in October, I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I traveled back home to Georgia to attend my Nanny’s funeral. When I got back to California I was devastated because her death took us all by surprise. On the heels of that little episode, my buddy Joey Goforth asked me to be a guest on his Self Service podcast. I was delighted at the opportunity and decided to listen to the older episodes to get an idea of what the experience was going to be like. I discovered two of my new current favorite songwriters this way, Caitlin Jemma and Margo Cilker. At the end of the Caitlin Jemma episode, it played a song called, Ain’t That Something. It was a LONG wait from October to May when I finally got to hear the new Caitlin Jemma album in its entirety but it was worth every minute!

It starts out with the song I mentioned before, Ain’t That Something. We’re introduced to this album with an acoustic guitar before giving way to a horns section. You won’t be able to turn back the dial after the intro. I promise! The next irresistible thing Caitlin Jemma has to offer is her voice. I always think it’s unjust to compare artists but remember how awesome it sounded coming through the speakers the first time you heard Hank Williams yodel Long Gone Lonesome Blues? That’s how revelatory Caitlin Jemma’s crooning vocals are in this song (Is crooning even the right word? Hopefully if she reads this she won’t take it as an insult). There aren’t enough exclamation points to describe how much I enjoy the opening track to this album!

Next comes Xxoo. This song rocks (for lack of a better word)! It’s a great follow up track to the opener because it shows how versatile Caitlin’s music can be and how many different ways her band can boogie, her voice at the centerfold once again. The outro builds into an awesome train whistle-esque chant. Lean On My Love slows the train to a steady roll. There’s a lot of good vocal and trumpet interaction with the melody to this one and the lyrics are pretty awesome. Still Dreamin’ keeps the groove locked down tight. If I could ask Ms. Jemma any question in the world it would be where she comes up with the arrangements for her songs because the fact that music like this isn’t debuting at the top of the billboards is a travesty. This song seriously has it all.

The next song, Evangeline, was my personal favorite on the entire album. It’s super stripped down, the lyrics are gold, and the vocal harmonies add a texture to the song which makes it heavenly. How It Is was another compelling track because it has a wild R&B flare that’ll make it hard for you to sit still. All Night was another stand out with some risqué lyrics. Ladies, hide your man for this one because it’s hot! I’m going to leave the rest of the album for the listener’s interpretation because I don’t want a song by song analysis to ruin anyone’s expectations of what a stellar record this one is.

It’s hard for me to find albums that I can listen to from start to finish these days. I work a full-time job, I’m a gigging musician/songwriter, a Story & Grit journalist, a husband, and a father to two boys. New artists must manage to drown out the traffic in my life as well as the melodies I hear in my own head to make it into my collection (yes, I still buy music). Caitlin Jemma’s music brought me a lot of joy during a difficult time in my life and this record will stay in my collection for a long time to come. As of this review, Caitlin Jemma is touring the Pacific Northwest to support the release of Love Notes. I’ve listed her tour dates below so if you see your city go to a show, buy lots of merch, and tell all your friends in every city across the country to make this girl famous. Good music ain’t gone, it’s just underground where it shouldn’t be!

05/03 Portland, Oregon
05/04 Eugene, Oregon
05/05 Olympia, Washington
05/06 Astoria, Oregon
05/08 Port Angeles, Washington
05/09 Port Townsend, Washington
05/10 Conway, Washington
05/11 Belingham, Washington
05/12 Seattle, Washington
05/13 Willamina, Oregon
05/16 Redding, California
05/17 San Francisco, California
05/18 Folsom, California
05/19 Sebastopol, California
05/20-21 Modesto, California
05/22 San Louis Obispo, California
05/24-27 Bradley, California
05/29 Knight’s Ferry, California
05/30 Carson City, Nevada
05/31 Carnelian Bay, California
06/01 Chico, California
06/02 Talent, Oregon
06/15 Moscow, Idaho
06/16 Bozeman, Montana
06/17 Livingston, Montana
06/19 Helena, Montana
06/20 Spokane, Washington
06/22 Missoula, Montana
06/23 Sandpoint, Idaho
06/25 Enterprise, Oregon
06/26 Hood River, Oregon

Matthew Westmoreland (or Matty, as his friends call him) was born in South Carolina, grew up in Georgia, and rambled everywhere in between. Currently located in Mendocino, California with his wife and two sons, he spends his days writing songs and his evenings listening to & reviewing albums for Story & Grit before gigs. Look for his debut album in late 2017 and keep up with him in the meantime at