Ms. Jody was born to the late Reverend Joe and Vertie Sims
Pickens in Chicago, IL. She was raised in Bay Springs, Mississippi
where she presently lives.
"You're My Angel" (Ecko 2006)
1. Ms. Jody
*** Look out all you Divas there's a "new freak in town" and her name is Ms. Jody. This she claims on the appropriately-titled "Ms. Jody" from her Ecko debut "You're My Angel". After name checking Marvin Sease ("Candy Licker" has forever impacted the Soul Blues world), Jody raps about her sexual proclivities on the slight but cute track (also appears as a remix). It must be said the sex-happy Blues woman (or man) persona has worn thin over the years and like most LP's of this kind it becomes a bit superfluous but that's what sells. Surely it's not meant to be taken serious and catchy numbers like "Sugar Daddy", the title song and the percolating dancer "Shake Your Booty" deliver the goods. My personal favorite though is the hep "Love Shop Mechanic" with it's jazzy piano and slippery vocal. Although lyrically banal, the live instrumentation here offers a refreshing break from the programming. Jody displays a strong voice ala Peggy Scott-Adams and I'm looking forward to hearing more from her. Production duties are evenly spread out between Eric Perkins, Wardell Duykes and Morris J. Williams.
"What You Gonna Do When The Rent Is Due?" (Ecko 2006)
1. Your Dog's About to Kill My Cat
*** Newcomer Ms. Jody had a self-titled hit ("Ms. Jody") from her debut CD "You're My Angel" but overall the disc was hit or miss. Some likable cuts in the Peggy Scott-Adams vein but mostly throwaways. "What You Gonna Do When The Rent Is Due?" on the other hand, is exactly the opposite- a high percentage of keepers with the only misstep being the idiotic "Big Daddy Don't You Come".
Onto the positive: "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat", a slowie with the usual double entendres, was a cautious choice for a first single. It's slight on melody; relying on cheeky lyrics to strike a chord and it'll probably hit but Motown-inspired Pop/Soul like "Get Up And Move On" and "I Don't Backtrack" are why I recommend this. See, after some generic releases from the label the spring seems to back in the step production-wise when it comes to bumpers like "I'm Puttin' Love On The Shelf" and the title cut. Ms. Jody really has that Peggy Scott thing going for her on "I'm In Love With A Younger Man". "Rent Is Due" also boasts a strong Downhome Blues ("We've Got To Cheat On Schedule") and a duet with O.B. Buchana ("One Way Love"). There's a lot of sisters challenging the Queen out there but Ms. Jody remains a top contender.
"I Never A Day Off" (Ecko 2008)
1. It's the Weekend
"Lonely Housewife" could fit thematically on the soundtrack to the dreadful TV show "Desperate Housewives". The best stab at Blues yet from our gal. Not everything hits though. "Two Strikes You're Out" is lyrically tired and "I'm Evening Up The Score" your typical what's-good-for-the-goose-is-good-for-the-gander tale. "I Never Take A Day Off" is a success nevertheless.
"It's A Ms Jody Thang" (Ecko 2009)
1. Cheatin' Comes with a Price
"Ms Jody's In The Streets Again" (Ecko 2010)
1. Ms Jody's In the Streets Again
"Ms. Jody's Keepin' It Real" (Ecko 2011)
1. Take Me
"Ms. Jody's In The House" (Ecko 2011)
1. Ms. Jody's In The House
"Still Strokin'" (Ecko 2013)
It's A Reunion
"It's All About Me" (Ecko 2013)
He's My Candy Man (4:30)
"It's All About Me (Deluxe Edition)" (Ecko 2014)
He's My Candy Man (4:30)
"Talkin' About My Good Thang" (Ecko 2015)
1. I Ain't Gonna Lie This Time
"The Best Of" (Ecko 2015)
1 Ms. Jody's Thang (Remix)
"I Got The Feeling" (Ecko 2016)
1 There's a Party
***1/2 At this point in time it's safe to say Ms. Jody is the "Queen Of Southern Soul Blues". She hasn't reinvented the wheel but she has borrowed from her predecessors in style and image and has risen to become the top female artist in the genre. The formula is familiar- a tough talkin', risque', sassy, in your face, take-no-mess women. Going back in recent time you have Denise LaSalle, Barbara Carr, Sheba Potts-Wright, Lynn White, Trudy Lynn, Koko Taylor and countless others who used this formula/persona. But the stereotype dates all the way back to the Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith days (1920s). Ms. Jody has her very similar peers in Nellie Tiger Travis, Lacee', Karen Wolfe, Big Cynthia, Sweet Angel, Val McKnight, Stephanie Pickett, Stephanie McDee- just about every single female Soul Blues artist working today. In a sense it's the role the business has demanded of a female Soul Blues singer. At least a black female. On one hand one could give mad props for the female empowerment but on the other hand one could reasonably worry about the stereotypes placed on black women in the Blues. Do they all have to be sex-crazed, materialistic, baby mamas with attitude? No. Sure, there's a lot of that. Thankfully that's not always the case. Even if it starts to feel that way. Besides they say "If a man does it he is a stud but if a women does she's a whore". Nonsense. Perhaps it's just a natural push back to macho posturing of male Blues singers. Of course the subject matter of modern day Soul Blues is one of repetition and cliche' anyway. Cheating, partying, dancing, cheating, sexing, celebrating, lost love, searching for a love, cheating. It's part and parcel and what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Time and time again women have had to "man up" (yes, irony intended) and compete in a male-dominated fields. It's a bit like what President Obama said of Hillary Clinton: "(Like Ginger Rogers) She's had to do everything I do but backwards and in high heels". That's about women in general regardless of color. Modern Soul Blues is what it is and women can dish it out just as well as they take it. And boy are women good at it! More than ever women are a vital part of the Southern Soul Blues scene.
Ms. Jody currently plays the role better than everyone else. And she transcends the stereotypes with a healthy dose of savvy observation. It's that whiff of maturity that connects with a larger audience I believe. Now a distinguished veteran, "I Got The Feeling" is her 11th all new studio album in just over a decade. That fact alone makes it remarkable that the quality of her albums still hold up. Naturally, much credit must be given to the seemingly endless well of musical ideas bubbling up at Ecko Records, which as been the dominate Southern Soul Blues label for over two decades now (Malaco/Waldoxy is/are the king of the 70s/80s/early 90s).
The formula still delivers. Sexy songs? You have your "Don't Back Up Off It". Jukin'? I present you with "This Place Is Hot" and "There's A Party Goin' On"? Cheating? "I'm Tired Of Being A Secret", "It's Too Late To Do Right Now". Relationship wisdom? "Making Love is Always Better When The Bills Are Paid". Dance? "Zydeco Rodeo". Cat and dog metaphors? "Dogettes".
As usual the Ecko production excels at shuffle bumps and ballads with Deep Soul arrangements. Plenty of bells and whistles (no, not literally) that fill out each track. Mini-hooks between the large ones. It's an Ecko trait to add plenty of keyboard, percolating synth and horn fills throughout the track. And of course Ms. Jody sings with her usual earthy charm. It's the quality and standard you've come to expect. The hits just keep on coming over at Ecko Records. If you enjoyed Ms. Jody's other 10(!) albums this one is a sure thing.
"Thunder Under Yonder" (Ecko 2017)
I'm So Confused (4:49)
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