REVIEW: Jo James — “Do You Want Me” (SINGLE)
“Do You Want Me” is the new single from former Voice contestant and Austinite Jo James. Blending together funk, soul and roots rock genres, “Do You Want Me” is a tightly-produced earworm destined to delight just about any music lover. Paramount to this experience is the way that James effortlessly maneuvers his artistry and raw self into such a wickedly honest and enjoyable tune. Relying much more on the quietness to his voice, James roars along like a selfless world observer. “Do You Want Me” is one song that amplifies a kind, modest artis the likes of which I have yet to hear in 2021.
The guitar work goes the distance. From a humble, almost shy beginning, the strings start out with a strong foundation, only to emerge at about the song’s bridge, creating an immediate reaction. As a listener the roadways and crossroads James creates with this guitar is that, much like the Austin scene to which he’s embedded. It has the southern twang, a bit murky southern drawl branded with a well-smoked BBQ flavor. The guitar tones are melodic and twinkling all at once, like the array of music bars along Sixth Street. James masterfully creates a whole other listening experience, another dimension with the way the guitar trickles in-and-out of the beginning of the song, only to be at the forefront from the middle to the song’s end.
James’ voice is just as memorable. He, too, sounds shy, almost Bob Dylan-like. You get the sense that he’s singing from a far, but the intimacy in his voice has been building up for days. Tell me you want me baby, he sings, repeating the chorus three times. It’s a trio of emotional pulls with each line. The ebb and flow of his cadence erupts each time. Unlike the guitar, he never saunters in and out of the viewpoint/listening area. If you listen very closely, you might even hear or catch on to the tiny breaths in-between. He holds court — completely gripping the listener on his every word. While he might sound like a thirsty guy, there is heart to this song, besides the sexual tension.
I think there is more to the backstory, more than what the listener is getting. In many ways, it’s a great pop song because he repeats the chorus, but after a few listens, you get the chance to explore the emotional depths. I think this song has the legs to really connect with listeners. James communicates that he’s a sensitive soul, and that he’s putting his own feelings into a world where us listeners are just wanting to be loved.
In other words — he does so much with just very little. I loved the production and the way this song just eats into your soul. It takes a bite out of the emotion of being in, as well as being in a relationship. In many ways, it’s also empowering because James is keenly aware of his listener. He’s an artist that wears his heart on his sleeve.