Josie Field - Leyland

2008-12-10 16:53
Well, those Machiavellian record companies spin doctors immediately start championing her as 'the next big thing': South Africa's answer to Alanis Morrisette, don't they?

Just as well that Josie Field deserves most of the hype then. Yes, an emotionally bruised femme-folk rocker like "Without You" or a delicate piano powered love ballad such as "The Shape of My Heart" suggest she wears the influences of say, Alanis Morrissette or Fetish's forgotten femme fatale Michelle Breeze rather well. But don't presume this means she's cut from the same singer songwriter cloth. Those 'strong 'n sensitive' or 'psycho babe' stereotypes don't actually apply with Leyland.

Instead, we meet an unflinchingly honest young woman coming to terms with living, loving and working in a man's world. "Beating Heart" is an edgy opening gambit that finds Josie turning what could've been just another heartbreak ballad into a feral celebration of womanhood with a straight talking snarl that fans of Tinita Tikaram and Skin are going to feel - whether they adore alt. folk rock or not.

Josie's secret is that she refuses to pull any punches about how's she's feeling. No pussyfooting around the 'oh woe is me' pity pot when yet another boyfriend's treated her badly. "Life is what you make of it, this I know for sure. I know for a fact I brought this on myself....All thoughts you manifest happen" she reflects on country-rap rocker "Law of Attraction". Yes, you heard right. It's a killer women's empowerment anthem with Godessa's EJ Von Lyrik with a defiantly simple message: if you're looking for shit you'll find it. So stop playing the victim card, step up to the plate, deal with your feelings and shape your own destiny.

Which is precisely what she does on a pair of folk rock ballads that give those dodgy A&R executives who once asked her to piss on her fire and write commercial crap the middle finger.

"I was told when I was 16 that my music would never make the scene because my voice wasn't pop and my lyrics mean" she sighs on folk rocker "Hey Man". Okay, surely this is a case of a wannabe alternative rock siren's lament at being misunderstood? Nope. In the next sentence she fesses up: "Understandably I believed it. So I took all the help I could get, musically that I regret, giving a little piece of my soul away every time someone would try and take what the others got and twist it up. Because you know better and you know it's not commercial enough."

Right. Clearly Josie's not finding it easy navigating the whole cult of celebrity thing. "This song sounds like a pop song, but I'm not a pop star, though I'd love to think I was. I'm so threatened by the girl in the poster. But I know her show’s over and I’m playing here tonight" she croons on the ironic "Pop Song".

It's a deft little unplugged deconstruction of her own Pop pigeonholing paranoia that frees her up to experiment with harmonica-hued country hoe-downs ("Remind Me of Me"), bluesy meditations on romance ("Hate the Game") and Dolly Parton-pouted ditties about finding the independence ("Freedom I Deserve"), love and respect she's looking for.

- Miles Keylock

What happens when a young singer songwriter's debut set of bittersweet piano ballads, impassioned acoustic guitar strummed croons and downbeat, yet curiously comforting alt. pop confessionals strikes a major chord with SA audiences?

What to read next: Kalahari

Jozigal 2008/11/12 2:21 PM
Leyland - Josie Field I think her stuf is amazing! I own both her albums, and was a little nervous regarding Leyland, after thinking Mercury is brilliant. However, I love it! Especially Freedom I deserve and Remind Me of Me. She is also an amazing performer, and everyone that gets the chance to check her out live should defs go! Way to go Josie!
Crowfan 2008/11/12 2:35 PM
Watch out world - here comes Josie! I own both albums and I completely agree that Leyland is a fantastic follow up to Mercury. It's a gutsy, original and very refreshing album. I enjoy the honestly and uncomplicated lyrics it has to offer. Everyone who's ever found themselves tapping their foot to a Josie song should definitely catch a performance. She is an awesome singer/songwriter with so much to offfer! Congrats Josie!!
Bra G 2008/11/13 3:32 AM
Josie Field- the era of the Singer/Songwriter is Back to stay! Josie Field is unpretentious and delivers exceptional, unadulterated musical talent and genius whenever she performs material that she has written, structured and composed. Reminiscent of Tanita Tikarim in vocal style, this young lass has impressed ever since radio took her to serious enough to playlist her songs. In a world of throw away Pop and paparazzi culture, its so good to discover an artist that has integrity and is in the "game" for all the right reasons. Josie Field is going to remain in music for as long as she wants to be in music. Viva La Difference Josie- you are the real deal!
Goda 2008/11/13 11:34 AM
Leyland I wasn't that mad about the Mercury material. I LOVE Leyland. Actually, for all the anti-commercial stuff she says, I think Leyland is a more accessible and likeable album, with a less distracting vocal style. With Mercury I was suitably impressed. With this, I think I'll actually play the CD for fun.
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