In December UK blue-eyed soulstress JO HARMAN announced an upcoming EP…. ‘Signature Soul’. The announcement came via the release of the single ‘Loving Arms’. Written by Tom Jans, the song has been recorded countless times – perhaps most famously by Dobie Gray; (check out versions by Billy Eckstine, Mille Jackson and Bo Kirkland and Ruth Davis too). Ms Harman’s version was as “authentic” as any of those and it augured well for the parent EP.
We’ve been told that the EP will hit the sales racks on 4th March and previews live up to the promise that ‘Loving Arms’ delivered. The overall mood of the five tracker is the wistful, country soul of ‘Loving Arms’. In many ways it reminds me of Joss Stone’s debut where southern soul heroine Betty Wright brought soul authenticity to the music of the young Devonian.
‘Loving Arms’ is one of two covers on the mini album. The other is, maybe surprisingly, a take on the Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. Ms H doesn’t’ stray too far from the original, but vocally is maybe more pleading and helpless than John Lennon’s rough and raucous attack. The remaining three songs are ‘Say That You Want Me’, ‘The Angel Leaves Her Watermark’ and ‘Keep You Guessing’. All three (indeed the whole EP) could’ve been crafted in Memphis, Miami or Muscle Shoals. The secret? Well , first off – Ms Harman’s innate grasp of the genre and, second – the whole EP was recorded as an unedited “live” set with backing courtesy of Redtenbacher’s Funkestra. There’s no “fixing” and separation between the players and singer. ‘Signature Soul’ indeed!