JO MANGO-WRACK LINES.
JO MANGO-WRACK LINES.
Over the last few years, Glasgow based Jo Mango has been busier than most singer-songwriters. She managed to combine her solo career, with being a member of Vashti Bunyan’s band; yet still found time to collaborate with some of the biggest names in music. Then in her downtime, Jo Mango found time to complete her Doctorate in Musicology. This meant that Jo Mango is in fact, Dr. Jo Mango. However, the good doctor shows no sign of slowing down.
Jo Mango is just about to release her new E.P. Wrack Lines, on Glasgow’s Olive Grove Records on 15th January 2016. Wrack Lines will be launched at Celtic Connections, in Glasgow, at a very special one-off concert on the 21st January 2016. The profits from the Wrack Lines E.P. will go to the charity Creative Carbon Scotland, and will hep to support their work to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. This is part of a wider project.
The Wrack Lines E.P. is part of a research project called “Fields of Green: Addressing Climate Change Through Music Festival Communities”. Its aims are to investigate what stakeholders, including audiences, organisers and musicians can do to encourage environmentally sustainable behaviour around and within music festivals. They’re something that Jo Mango, and her collaborators on Wrack Lines have plenty of experience of.
Wrack Lines finds Jo collaborating with some of the biggest names in Scottish music, including Rachel Sermanni, R.M. Hubbert, Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow and The Pictish Trail. They feature on five: “songs they have written together that explore a gamut of emotions related to travel, the environment and music.” Inspiration for what became Wrack Lines, came about back in 2007.
Back in 2007, Jo was touring with singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan, who was on the comeback trail. Jo was part of Vashti Bunyan’s band. They were in America, on what was their third flight of the day. There was no sign of the flight landing. Instead, it was in what pilots call a holding pattern. It was then that Jo began to think of the nomadic lifestyle of a musician; and what the possible effect it could have on her and the wider world. This was the start of Jo beginning to question how sustainable the lifestyle of a musician was in the longterm? Surely, it would eventually take its toll? Could anyone continue such a gruelling schedule indefinitely? For an academic like Jo, this needed further investigation. However, given Jo’s gruelling schedule, this took longer than she had hoped.
Ever since Jo Mango’s career began, she’s been one of the hardest working Scottish artists. It was back in 2005, that Jo released her debut album, Paperclips and Sand. This was the debut album from Scotland’s latest, up-and-coming folk singer. Paperclips and Sand wasreleased on Lo-Five Records, and introduced the world to a hugely talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Jo showcases her versatility on Paperclips and Sand, proving equally comfortable playing kalimba, harmonium, omnichord, bowed glock and piano. Meanwhile, she delivered a series of vocals that were variously ethereal, emotive and heartfelt. Jo Mango it seemed, was an artist with a big future.
Two year later, Jo released her single My Lung, in 2007. Just like Paperclips and Sand, it was released on Lo-Five Records. Later that year, Jo collaborated with David Byrne at the Carnegie Hall, in New 2007. Working with such a musical luminary showed how highly regarded Jo Mango was. However, David Byrne wasn’t the only big name Jo was working with by then.
By 2007, Jo was part of Vashti Bunyan’s band. Vashti Bunyan had been on the comeback trail for a few years. She had released her long-awaited sophomore album, Lookaftering, in 2005. Since then, Vashti Bunyan’s star was in the ascendancy. Jo Mango was now part of Vashti Bunyan’s band, and would play an important part in the followup to Lookaftering, in 2005. Since then, Vashti Bunyan’s star was in the ascendancy, Heartleap. It was released in 2014. Before, that, Jo was busy.
In 2010, Jo released the limited edition The Moth and The Moon on Lo-Five Records. The following year, 2011, was a busy year for Jo. She worked with Glasgow based Teenage Fanclub, Devendra Banhart and Coco Rosie in 2011. In 2012, Jo worked with another another Scottish band, Admiral Fallow. That year, Jo released her sophomore album Murmuration.
Murmuration was released on Olive Grove Records. Producing Murmuration, was Adem Ilhan, who Jo knew from her time touring with Vashti Bunyan. On its release in November 2012, Murmuration received critical acclaim. Critics were enchanted by her voice and the way she delivered her cerebral, thoughtful lyrics. Then there’s the eclectic choice of instruments that feature on Murmuration. This was a winning combination, that resulted in a career defining album from Jo Mango. She was about to head out on tour again.
Less than a month after the release of Murmuration, Jo was asked to support Laetitia Sadlier of Sterolab. This resulted in Jo’s music being heard by a much wider audience. Seven years after releasing her debut album, Jo Mango’s career was in the ascendancy. However, she wasn’t going to rest on her laurels.
Within a month, she’d penned and recorded what became her latest E.P. When We Lived In The Crook Of A Tree. The songs on When We Lived In The Crook Of A Tree are based upon Angela Carter’s Book Of Fairy Tales. This famous book was the perfect inspiration for Jo. An eclectic collection of enthralling stories, they gave birth to the four songs that became Jo Mango’s When We Lived In The Crook Of A Tree E.P. They were ethereal, bewitching, captivating and haunting, and believe me, made a lasting impression. Since then, Jo Mango has been busier than ever.
She’s continued to work with Vashti Bunyan, and played an important part in the sound and success of her critically acclaimed third album, Heartleap. Jo played kalimba and dulcimer, on what was Vashti Vunyan’s first album for nine years. After the release of Heartleap, Jo has continued to tour with Vashti Vunyan. However, that’s not all she’s been doing.
Jo Mango recently completed her Doctorate in Musicology, and is now Dr. Jo Mango. However, Jo Mango hasn’t neglected her solo career. She continues to play live, write and record. This includes Wrack Lines, Jo’s new E.P.
For Wrack Lines, Jo decided to collaborate with other Scottish artists. This includes by Rachel Sermanni, RM Hubbert, Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow and The Pictish Trail. This however, was an ambitious project.
On Wrack Lines, Jo Mango was going to be joined by some of the biggest names in Scottish music. It was going to be almost impossible to get them into a studio together. So, it was a case of writing and recording the five songs when their schedules permitted. Eventually, five very special songs were recorded. Jo explains: “they explore a gamut of emotions related to travel, the environment and music.” However, many people will be wondering how Jo came up with the title to the E.P.?
Anyone whose walked along a deserted beach after the tide has gone out, will have seen a Wrack Lines. It’s the trail of flotsam and jetsam that’s left behind by the tide. For Jo Mango, not only did this conjure up images of travelling across the ocean; but also the waste and pollution that’s left behind as a result of this journey. Jo also relates Wrack Lines to the music making process, and points out that “music itself is made of waves.”
Having written and recorded the five songs that became Wrack Lines, all that was left to do, was the artwork. That was the one time the five artists touring schedules came in useful. Each musician involved in the Wrack Lines’ project, supplied a map of their touring schedule. The five schedules were then combined, and became the basis for Wrack Lines’ artwork. It showed where Jo Mango, Rachel Sermanni, R.M. Hubbert, Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow and The Pictish Trail. They had travelled far and wide, all in the name of music. That had also been the case for the Wrack Lines E.P., which was nearing completion.
All that was left was to schedule a release date. The 15th of January 2016 was chosen, which was just before the Celtic Connections’ festival brings Glasgow to a standstill. What better time to release such a captivating and enchanting E.P. as Wrack Lines.
Loneliness and Rhythm opens the Wrack Lines E.P. It was written by Louis Abbott and Jo Mango. Straight away, there’s a sense of sadness to this piano lead track. That’s even before Jo is joined by Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow. Their voices unite and together, they deliver the cinematic lyrics, while subtle waves of the rhythmic arrangement seems to rise and fall. By the time an understated plucked guitar enters, Jo and Louis are living the lyrics; breathing life, meaning and emotion into them. Later, chiming guitars are panned left and right, adding to the mesmeric nature of a melodic, cathartic confessional.
Sustain sees Jo joined by RM Hubbert, who in 2014, won the Scottish Album Of The Year Award. Hubby has a very distinctive style of playing the guitar. It provides a contrast to; and compliments Jo’s tender, pensive vocal. She leaves space as she delivers the vocal. It adds an element of drama, and Jo sounds not unlike Suzanne Vega. By then, the distinctive sound of the harmonium joins Hubby’s guitar. There’s a sense of sadness and longing in Jo’s voice; longing to return home. However, “there’s always another” concert. That’s the nomadic and lonely life of the musician, as they travel from town to town, week after week, year after year.
The Pictish Trail joins Jo Mango on Believe Me, I Know. It’s the first track to feature drums. They’ve a big, bold, rounded and moderne sound. They’re panned, while guitars and later percussion accompany Jo and The Pictish Trail. Jo’s vocal is tender, and sits back in the mix. Meanwhile, The Pictish Trail sits at the front of the mix. Meanwhile, a myriad of effects and sound effects are added, to what’s an irresistible slice of hook-laden indie pop meets folk.
It’s just Jo Mango on The Sky Exploded. Her ethereal vocal is accompanied by just an acoustic guitar. This sound harks back to halcyon days of the Laurel Canyon sound. So does The Sky Exploded, and Jo’s deliver of it. It’s a song that could just as easily have been recorded in the early seventies. There’s a hint of Joni Mitchell, as Jo delivers her cinematic lyrics. She paints picture with her vocal. They unfold as the captivated listener eavesdrops on Jo’s reminisces. All of a sudden, memories come flooding back. She remembers travelling down the freeway with her partner Later, “we were wild and we watched as The Sky Exploded.” As Jo delivers these words, she’s almost rueful, as if life has never been the same, since that night “The Sky Exploded.”
Bitter Fruit finds Jo joined by Rachel Sermani. They’re like yin and yang, their voices complimenting each other perfectly. Behind tem, just a subtle but hypnotic drum, is accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, Scotland’s finest vocalists uniting. They wonder: “what should I do with this desire, please, it won’t leave me?” Their voices are filled with emotion, confusion and torment as they deliver the lyrics, breathing life, and meaning into them.
Jo Mango is to be congratulated for bringing to completion a project whose roots can be traced back to 2007, when she was touring with Vashti Bunyan. That was when she found herself circling an American airport. They were in a holding position, on what was the third plane of the day. Jo began to think of the nomadic lifestyle of a musician; and what the possible effect it could have on her and the wider world. Nine years later, and Jo Mango has completed the project, with a little help from her friends.
Rachel Sermanni, RM Hubbert, Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow and The Pictish Trail all joined Jo Mango on Wrack Lines, which will be released by Olive Grove Records on 15th January 2016. Wrack Lines will be launched at Celtic Connections, in Glasgow, at a very special one-off concert on the 21st January 2016. The profits from the Wrack Lines E.P. will go to the charity Creative Carbon Scotland, and will hep to support their work to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. That’s an admirable gesture from Jo Mango, who has made the Wrack Lines project such a success.
Throughout Wrack Line the songs veer between captivating, ethereal, haunting and heartfelt, to beautiful, irresistible and melodic. Sometimes, there’s a cathartic quality to the songs, and they’re akin to a very personal confessional from Jo Mango. Always, though, the songs on Wrack Lines ooze quality, as one of Scotland’s finest songsmiths, chanteuse and doctor of music weaves her magic on fives tales of the “emotions related to travel, the environment and music.”
JO MANGO-WRACK LINES.