Three weeks in the Arctic Circle has certainly left its mark on Jodie Marie. The Welsh singer-songwriter’s new EP shivers with the cold fjord breeze and echoes the icy terrain of Norway’s northern tip. Yet there is also a log-fire intimacy and crunching of soft snow in its sound. It evokes a wild landscape of welcome and wonder. Polar Night is firmly rooted in the geography of its creation.
Opening track ‘Seiland’ plunges the listener into the frozen setting of Jodie Marie’s base with a continuous choral hum. Its simplicity is a theme that defines this record, here manifested in a short instrumental arrangement that tingles the senses. There is a wonderful incongruity between the constraint and freedom of her isolation. This is expressed in the rich combination of soulful vocals and balladeering piano which run through the rest of the record like a stalactite. Meanwhile, lyrics such as those on the title track – “biting wind / I’m frozen here / at the water’s edge / I feel free” – and ‘Blue Hour’ – “I’m lonely / but I feel alright” – act as a stalagmite that meets in the middle to create a solid pillar of yearning love.
The idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder becomes more explicit as the record progresses. And as it arises from the environment in which Jodie Marie finds herself, the songs are ripe with imagery and metaphor. There is something of the sacred in being “surrounded by beauty / and all I see is you” on ‘Blue Hour’. The wooing harmonies conjure up a whooshing wind on ‘Eye of the Storm’, tempered by the comfort of the electric guitar strings, resembling the arms of a loved one. Meanwhile, the stars become a focal point on ‘Closer to You’, the line “miles apart / but we share the same view” reinforcing the intriguing contrast of separation and connection found throughout the EP. It seems this Scandinavian island offered something more than just creative inspiration for Jodie Marie.
Final track ‘Reindeer Heart’ encapsulates the gentle nature of this EP musically whilst also reaffirming the metaphorical link between landscape and love in its lyrics. There is something mystical about this final song, borne of sensitivity and encouraged into being, as a presence that “leaves no traces… that the eye can see”. It is more in the vein of ‘Carageen’ than anything else from her last album ‘The Answer’. But whilst that arose from the Pembrokeshire shoreline, Polar Night was formed amidst the darkness of the far-northern hemisphere. Jodie Marie has captured this setting perfectly, so that even in the midst of its warm Spring release, its sense of place can be keenly felt, and when the sun goes down, embraced.