Jamie McDell: Extraordinary Girl (usual streaming/download outlets)

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Jamie McDell: Extraordinary Girl (usual streaming/download outlets)

Out here at Elsewhere we consider one of the healthiest signs of the state of our music industry in this particular New Zealand Music Month isn't the international profiles of artists like Nadia Reid, Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams, Delaney Davidson and so on or even the conspicuous successes of local artists, but the sheer diversity of talented artist out there who are working, recording and in many instances actually making a living out of their art.

The sheer breadth – let's say from Alien Weaponry to Louis Baker – speaks well of the health of the musical landscape.

Jamie McDell has been one worth following, from healthy, socially conscious young songstress-cum-role model (whose audience was largely young teens in our experience) into the mature country-rock artist as she emerges on this album.

Now in her mid Twenties, she has more life and love experiences behind her to tap into, as she does here. No longer the self-aware sentiments of Dumb where she dismissed those who would dismiss her generation's opinions (“I'm just young and dumb”)

Now there's the increasingly aggressive 3am (good things rarely happen at that time let alone the realisations of a relationship), there's the quiet empowerment of the title track (“diamond in the rough, he won't dress that neck with any pearls . . . ordinary men break extraordinary girls”) and cars – damaged with rust beneath the paint – provide interesting metaphors for men.

Bad Attitude is a real slow burning country-blues with lacerating guitars behind her exceptionally powerful vocals in the crescendoes, Running Now is a rock-framed song of escape from a bad relationship and the lo-fi country closer A Liar Loves a Liar spotlights the breadth of her expanding musical horizons.

McDell has always sung about matters which are more mature than her audience and these songs – in a lineage which includes Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss and more left-field country artists like Kasey Chambers (who provides backing vocals on the first single Tori) – place McDell directly in front of her peers who understand the betrayals, bad choices of men, and the sexual and emotional territory being covered, which comes wrapped in classy country-rock, pop and blues-tinged rock.

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