Adopted fruity names… Fiona Apple, Lemon Jelly, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, and now Jo Mango (it’s enough to make your mouth water). Having heard her debut album Paperclips And Sand, her name is not one you will easily forget.
First up, here’s a brief low-down on Miss Mango: after playing in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, studying music and performing with several bands, Scotswoman Jo released two EPs – Antidote in 2003 and Fluffy Brain in 2004 – with the help of her band (all of whom have adopted the surname Mango as their musical aliases… does that collectively make them a punnet?), including her twin, Jim, on bass and backing vocals.
Paperclips And Sand opens with My Lung, a simple, unique and beautiful song. Accompanying the lush lyrics (“You are my lung, my heart, my soul, I’ll breathe you in and laugh you out,”) is a music box type sound, which creates a magical feeling to the song.
Track two Tea Lights sets the tone for the rest of the album by using an acoustic guitar, on this occasion fingerpicked, added to with strings. It is the simplicity of the guitar, however, with a combination of other – often eclectic – instruments, for example a squeezebox, flute, toy piano and kalimba (thumb piano), that make this album special.
Gomer is a lush love song – a duet between Mango and Alan Mango (backing singer, real surname Peacock). Both voices complement each other as well as Carol King and James Taylor‘s did on Up On The Roof, though with about as much melancholy as a Radiohead / Damien Rice collaboration.
The majority of songs are laid-back, but Blue Light is different to the album’s other tracks: with more instruments and a faster pace, it has an irregular rhythm and feels more jazz influenced than the other songs (no doubt a nod to Mango’s Youth Jazz Orchestra roots). Also referencing a ‘classical’ music background is the song Waltz With Me, which even has the traditional 3/4 time signature.
The most unique thing about Mango’s songs, however, is her voice. A cross between the childlike quality of Björk, and Kathryn Williams‘ soft vocals, Mango is mesmerising.
In fact, Paperclips And Sand is so simple, charming, catchy and ever so slightly quirky, comparisons could easily be drawn between Mango and the Mercury Prize nominated Williams. It could be 2006’s Little Black Numbers. If you like your folk with a pinch of je ne sais quoi, look no further than this fruity number.