What’s in a name? Odludek is a Polish word meaning loner or pilgrim. Chosen as the title of Jimi Goodwin’s first solo excursion since fronting British band Doves, it seems to encompass the artist’s purpose. With the band on a lengthy hiatus, Goodwin has taken time out to conjure an album on which he plays almost all the instruments himself to mark a “this is me” line in the sand. Goodwin is quoted as saying he set out to make “this mad mixtape”…”eclectic as fuck”…”a reflection of how I schizophrenically devour music.” With some co-writing assistance from Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Paul Weller-collaborator Simon Dine, the results go as boldly as that particular split infinitive.
The crashing, sonorous chord that opens the album on “Terracotta Warrior” sounds ominous, but is no death knell. Rather, it heralds Goodwin’s journey to exorcise all kinds of ghosts, fears, and suspicions, and he’s clearly enjoying the creative process. The record shares some qualities with Doves, largely in Goodwin’s ability to turn heartache into positive resolution. However, he also mixes in fresh musical elements, like the unexpected bursts of shredding on “Didsbury Girl”, an episodic song set in the Manchester suburb frequented in Goodwin’s youth.
When reliving his Sub Sub days via the old school electronic dance of “Live Like a River” or letting loose his imagination in the madly frenetic “Man v Dingo”, Goodwin reveals more tricks than his long-proven knack for writing anthemic hooks. His stoic, melancholic voice is distinctive, at times set lower in the mix than it deserves — but this just goes to accentuate the fluid integration of voice and music.
The outstanding “Oh! Whisky” gains the distinction of being worth the price of the album on its own. “Oh whisky give me patience/ Oh whisky give me truth/ Oh whisky give me empathy/ Just don’t give me the blues,” Goodwin pleads in the first chorus, before recognizing the opposite and working through it. The gospel-tinged “Hope” blends Americana rhythms with, unexpectedly, a cor anglais to exhilarating effect, while Goodwin shows he can do downbeat with the best on the tender “Keep My Soul in Song”.
With its familiar landmarks interrupted by imaginative mood swings, Odludek offers an engaging listen. Goodwin has given his mixtape concept life, shown versatility in his writing, dexterity in playing, and produced a companion for loners.
Essential Tracks: “Oh! Whisky”, “Hope”, and “Didsbury Girl”