Jamie McDell is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand whose album Six Strings and a Sailboat went Gold and won Best Pop Album in New Zealand in 2013. On the Botox EP (recorded, mixed, and produced by Nash Chambers) , she shows that whether it’s pop or more country sounds, she can make it sound good.
It doesn’t take long to realize that McDell has a way with words. Not only that, but she manages to sing acid-tongued lyrics in a very sweet voice that almost makes it sound complimentary – to a point. At the beginning of the title track, she sings about thinking about Botox because she saw some new lines on her face. She goes on to sing to a certain someone, “ask the doctor to make me shorter so you can get your manhood back.” But then this song seems to be about duality. You can even hear it in the contrast between the volume of Jedd Hughes’s guitar and the melancholy mood of this tune.
She shows that she is pretty good with melancholy tunes on the sad and twangy duet with Robert Ellis (who also plays piano) entitled “Worst Crime.” In a voice reminiscent of Natalie Maines, McDell sings, “breaking your heart might have been the worst crime.” That is only one of the heartbreaking lyrics. There are plenty more. The combination of her voice and the pedal steel played by Dan Dugmore is enough to make you feel the penetrating ache in the song.
“Goodbye Ohio” is the third and final song on the EP, and while the arrangement isn’t necessarily spare, the instruments are definitely given some room to breathe. You can hear it right from the beginning in McDell’s acoustic guitar and in the barely-there piano part played by Jimmi Wallace. The pedal steel particularly seems to reflect the sadness of the lyrics while the tempo and the space between notes make the lyrics more poignant.
This is a beautiful EP. The only trouble is that with three songs, it doesn’t give you enough of a taste of McDell’s stellar voice. Botox will be available everywhere on October 25. Order your copy here.