Jo Wymer hails from Freehold, New Jersey. Jo’s bio hails her as the black sheep of the Jersey Shore rock scene. We will explore that moniker later. She is a two-time JAM award winner, one-time AMA award winner, and a two-time NAPW Woman of the Year award winner (2013 and 2014). She is a Navy veteran and mother, who has been writing rock, Americana, blues and pop music, as well as music for television and film for almost 20 years.
Jo’s music can be heard on 250+ radio stations across the United States, and such national TV shows like Sons Of Anarchy, The Affair and The 100, as well as FOX NASCAR Sunday. Wymer’s recent accolades and accomplishments include working and recording with such greats as The E Street Band to Warren Haynes; performing with the SNL band; and opening for such great artists as Joan Osborne, Martin Short, Jeffrey Gaines, Jake Clemons, Nick Clemons, The Black Keys, Bob Burger, Glen Burtnik and many others. She won the 2010 and 2012 New Jersey Acoustic Musicians award for the Top Female Performer. She is the first woman-led band to win the Top Blues Band award at the AMA awards in 2010. She has also played with Earl Slick from David Bowie and members of The Smithereens.
Jo’s newest project is produced by two-time Grammy winner Marc Swersky and was officially released on July 4, 2016. Wymer’s vocals are powerful, high energy, soulful and bring an authentic raw feel to her songs. Her delivery of the storylines is masterful and genius. Audience members are awestruck with her emotionally raw performances. Performing live with her band and capturing her solo acoustic shows is something special and if the chance arises, one should take that opportunity.
Jo has been part of the music scene for quite some time now and as she says in her words, “I felt like the music scene the way it has been after Sandy (almost dried up) that there was nothing left to say. Licensing of the music was the way to go. I had been writing a lot and with co-writers such as Vic Della Pello. That writing relationship turned out to be great and thus some of the songs on S.L.G. were born.” In case anyone is wondering what S.L.G. stands for, it is short for Sex, Love, God.
When it comes to Jo’s latest foray in the studio, she has this to say: “The studio is as amazing as the musicians I performed with. Players such as Steve Holley, Todd Caldwell, Vincent Mascola, Joe DeMaio, Scott Solomon, Jim Squire and Marc Swersky helped me create some seriously magical moments. It was really great getting my hands dirty under Marc’s tutelage.”
Marc Swersky’s production projects have been featured here more than once with artists such as Gedeon Luke and Christine Martucci. But nationally, Swersky has been all over the place. For over 25 years, Marc Swersky has collaborated with some of the top artists and writers in the music business (Joe Cocker, Hilary Duff, Roger Daltrey, Natalie Cole). As a successful songwriter/producer/musician, his albums have sold more than 50 million copies. Marc is a two-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter featured on The Bodyguard soundtrack for the song “Trust In Me,” sung by Joe Cocker, and Thanks & Giving All Year Long (Executive Producer, Marlo Thomas) for the song “(I’ll Give) Anything But Up!”, sung by Hilary Duff.
So, of course, I was interested in hearing what he did for Wymer’s new disc. S.L.G. is Wymer’s latest in a continuing journey through the good and bad of life, love and the music business, and it looks at things from the soul perspective. Delving into the new music, I came up with a few thoughts on Jo Wymer and her brand new trip into the world of original music and the world beyond.
Up first is “Addiction.” Featuring down and dirty rhythm section work, Wymer soars throughout, rising and falling as only she can do. Quite diverse as a singer, Wymer can draw out low moans and hit shattering highs within a single section. Horns pounce in married bliss as organs, guitars and bass rumble and shake under Jo’s sweet tone. Jo does indeed “take you there” as her band assists in the carrying along in excellent and timbered style.
“The Shoebox” is up next and percolates out of the speakers with the smokiest soul feel around. Jo immediately lays her ’60s soul over smooth and succulent music beds. I love the little wah-wah guitar licks that pop up before fading back into the mix. Pianos shower sprinkles of melody down over Jo’s even structure as backing vocals provide a wall of “Blue Velvet” feel over the whole piece. Lyrically speaking, Jo gets thick about a loved one’s origins here but does it in such a way that it’s as beautiful as the music itself. Whirling organs hum in the background as the band finishes up.
“The Well Runs Dry” takes center stage next. Acoustic guitars start things off as Jo comes in with her range rich vocal lines. Describing the weakened soul, Jo goes through pills and bottles to get to the root of things. Overall, the bones in the closet and the pain that’s run her off her course all come to life on “The Well Runs Dry.” Guitars cry beautifully in the background and I believe they come courtesy of Joe DeMaio. If Jo has a ballad on the disc, it’s this song, and it works like gangbusters. I would classify this as my favorite song on the record.
The next tune up is called “No Rules.” Tackling the age-old battle of personal success versus the standard expectations in the music industry today, Jo plows headlong into telling the listener that nothing is ever going to stop her from doing what she wants to do. The band sizzles under Jo’s powerful vocal charge. Keyboards run the gamut as horns blast unified melody. Guitars growl and chirp with Steve Cropper-like precision under the ministrations of DeMaio. Bass and drums anchor this rock and roll number to the proverbial floor.
The last tune on this too short disc is called “No Time Left To Cry.” Wymer fluctuates between intimate splendor and powerful surges as pianos and organs lull the listener into her dreamlike presentation. Life is way too short, and that’s Jo’s motto here. Don’t let your chances roll by. This song reminds me of some of the 1970s Bette Midler stuff. Based off of the old country blues tones of the old days, “No Time Left To Cry” flies into 2016 with all the emotional moxie of the blues and R&B. Another great tune from Wymer’s creative mind.
I spoke to Jo briefly before I wrote this, and we discussed how much of the music scene doesn’t seem to have room for a player of her style and status, which is a shame because she has so much good to offer. S.L.G. delivers on every level it reaches for, and it’s yet another triumph for both Wymer and Swersky.
If you’re a fan of R&B-flavored blues, head over to Jo’s site and pick up your copy of S.L.G., which is available at her website and outlets such as CD Baby and iTunes. jowymer.com.