Review | Jo Bywater



Cycle Grace Pulse Break, Jo Bywater
Self-released, Dec 2010.

Cycle Grace Pulse Break is the first album release of Yorkshire-born acoustic songwriter Jo Bywater, who has honed her art through tireless live gigging in and around her adopted home of Liverpool.

The seven-track debut is a testament to the many styles that inspire her, with more emotion and range of mood than many artists manage to fit into a studio release treble Cycle Grace Pulse Break’s length.  It’s impossible to pin a single genre on this album: at times it’s blues, other times folk and sometimes even a little grunge. The first track, aptly titled ‘Disclaimer’, begins with an upbeat, understated refrain before kicking out some bluesy swagger, as Jo’s voice swerves from gentle coo to whiskey-soaked snarl.  The line “Outside I’m James Dean, inside I’m 28 Days Later” hints at a duality prevalent throughout the remainder of the album.

This is a very personal affair for Jo, never more evidently than on the track ‘Smokescreen’ – perhaps the album’s most introspective moment.  Sparse guitars and quiet, contemplative vocals abound; as can be said of this album as a whole, the sombre mood doesn’t last the whole song and suddenly, we’re treated to one of the finest, most energetic riffs on the whole album.

Though Cycle Grace Pulse Break is quite raw in parts, Jo possesses the kind of energy that enables her to deliver a soulful howl (most evident on ‘Let Go’) without ever inviting you to dare feel sorry for her.  Here she’s sensitive yet confident, and abundantly talented. Each song has its own unique personality – there are definitely no fillers here – and while listening to each one is a rewarding experience, by the end of the record you are left wishing for more. Having written, performed, created the artwork for and promoted the hell out of her first album, it’s clear Jo Bywater has the kind of passion that sets her apart from much of the soulless, generic work in her genre.  If you’re looking for something exciting, challenging and refreshingly honest I recommend you check out Cycle Grace Pulse Break and you will not be disappointed.

Those looking to see Jo live can catch her at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre on Tuesday, 25 January.

The album can be purchased in physical and digital formats here.


Matt Pitman


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