In a day and age where something new and shiny seems to mask the importance of what is classic and dependable, an experienced artist re-emerges straddling the line of her original, verifiable sound and today’s modern, confident country music. Jo Dee Messina might have “been down this road a time or two,” but one thing holds true – while this artist may not define herself as “shiny,” she is certainly as polished as ever!
With only weeks left until the release of Jo Dee’s highly anticipated independent album, “Me” (which is available today!), I caught up with the hard working, sleep-deprived Grammy nominee. On the heels of the first single off the new album, “Peace Sign,” recently came Jo Dee’s second single, “A Woman’s Rant,” and this one is sure to turn heads in the music industry! For Jo Dee, getting music back out there for fans to hear is monumental, as she spent several years creating music, only to have that music placed on a shelf. “I’ve recorded songs that I thought were wonderful and no one had the ability to hear them. It’s like putting a bird in a cage. And, so, just the freedom to do that is such a blessing and I really come from a place of gratitude.”
Jo Dee makes it an absolute point to express that gratitude to supportive radio stations and fans in every which way possible! As we have previously reported, Me was funded by the fans through Kickstarter, and certain fans, based on their donations, were given the unique experience of joining Jo Dee in the studio and recording background on one of her tracks. On the track “He’s Messed Up,” you can distinctly hear fans speaking and clapping in the background. Jo Dee excitedly discussed the fans’ reactions to walking into a recording studio for the first time. “They walked in and were like ‘oh my goodness!’ and I was like ‘huh?!’ because it’s what we do everyday!” And the fans didn’t just put in the work and leave; they ate lunch with Jo Dee, chatted, took pictures, and hung out. “There was no rushing, no pressure, no anything. We were real laid back with the whole process, and, thank God for Julian King, who co-produced the record and engineered it and mixed it, ‘cause he was the one who was like ‘alright, gotta get this done!’ So, he kept us all moving!” The experience was especially significant to Jo Dee because it gave her fans a chance to see that she is kind to everyone around her because, plainly and simply, that is exactly who she is.
If you also want the opportunity to know more about who Jo Dee is as a person, I urge you to listen to the new album for a closer look. She had a hand in writing many of the songs on Me and feels so personally connected to the tracks that she can’t specify which resonates with her the most. “I’ve listened to this record from top to bottom and just cried. It’s real. It happened. This exists. All of my thoughts, all of my emotions through the whole process are right here to listen to.” The title track “Me” is “an extremely emotional, moving song,” whereas “A Woman’s Rant” “is so much fun and there’s so much of the sass of my every day.” If I was going to force Jo Dee to choose one though (which I would never do!), she would pick “Me” as her favorite because “it’s the most sentimental, most vulnerable, and where my heart is the most raw.”
It is likely that Jo Dee was able to achieve such a high level of sentiment, vulnerability, and rawness because she was admittedly inspired by “nothing!” when she sat down to write for this album. Rather, she just sat down and wrote for herself and chose the final track list at a later time. In fact, Jo Dee wrote so much around the time she was preparing for this album that several songs ended up on the cutting room floor. Shedding some of her own songs that Jo Dee didn’t necessarily think fit into the Me puzzle left room for other writers’ songs that she absolutely fell in love with. Jo Dee exclaimed that she loves the song “Take It” because of how much she relates to it. “It’s funky as can be! It’s like ‘I’m gonna take it! I’m gonna open up my arms to everything in front of me, man! I’m gonna take it!’ I LOVE that song!” Actually, Jo Dee has loved that song for years. She was presented with “Take It” ten years ago and the producer of her album didn’t like it, so she was never able to take it out of her back pocket … until now.
From front to back, Jo Dee was able to choose every song she wanted to include on this album, whether it was something edgy like “He’s Messed Up,” or pop like “I’m Free,” or personal like “Say Goodbye To Superman.” Where there is red tape, there are restrictions, and those restrictions that Jo Dee dealt with for so long were lifted and she had the artistic freedom to do anything and everything she felt was appropriate this time around. “I’m very grateful to be able to say ‘this is how I’m feeling; this is part of who I am’ and be able to put it down on … tape.” Yes, she said “tape.” Please note that I am risking my life by sharing that tidbit with you all because Jo Dee said “I’ll kill ya!” if I mentioned that she somewhat dated herself. So, you’re welcome for being a daring reporter, readers!
Jo Dee doesn’t just love the songs I have named in this article so far. She loves each and every one of the songs that made it onto Me. When asked what one song Jo Dee is most excited for fans to hear, after calling me “wicked” for asking such a tough question (***sidebar, this question was submitted by a fan via Twitter and I promptly tossed that fan right under the bus, so the “wicked” allegation was rightfully re-designated to her***), Jo Dee said “all of them … To anyone out there who has a crazy, hectic life, ‘A Woman’s Rant.’ To anyone who feels like they’re hanging on by a thread and they can’t pull it off, ‘Me.’ To anyone who’s entered a new situation in their life, you know what, I’m gonna make a fresh start! Have it be ‘Take It!’”
Throughout this process, Jo Dee has learned that anything is possible. With that lesson under her belt, Jo Dee is releasing an album she believes in and is taking her music out on the road with the help of her very own “Jerry Maguire.” Jo Dee is most looking forward to getting Me out and finally being able to take a breath and get back to writing. Since creating her own record label, Jo Dee has been wearing more hats than in the past and she is eager to take off the businessperson hat for a bit and allow herself time for creativity again.
Supporting this album is like cheering for the inappropriately labeled underdog and hugging a dear friend all at once. You certainly can’t go wrong by doing either and, believe me, this is one artist who will cherish and embrace each and every download like it was her last. You can download the extraordinary Me now by visiting iTunes.
As always, thank you to Jo Dee just for being her: a phenomenal talent; a beautiful person; a comic; a sassy powerhouse; and one of the finest and most appreciative people with whom I have ever come into contact. I feel like I have truly gained a friend over the last several months of getting to know Jo Dee on a more personal level (through our conversations and my in-depth reviews of her music), and this friend is surely a keeper!
Please feel free to share your every thought with me by contacting me @JenSwirsky on Twitter.
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