Georgia native Jo Smith has been gathering buzz for her blend of country and Motown, and she made her UK debut at the Nashville Meets London Festival in Canary Wharf.
Jo opened her set with Poster Child, a sassy uptempo track with a 1960s vibe. Her sweet soulful tone really stood out against the buzzy guitars and I liked her clever, playful lyrics. It was clear she was having a lot of fun and she soon had the crowd swept up in her enthusiasm. She followed that with Dance Dirty, a sultry song which showed off the richness in her voice, followed by the bittersweet, yearning Gotta Let Go.
The Motown influence was strong throughout Jo’s performance, particularly on emotional songs such as I Lied, Slow Dance With Your Memory and Blissful, which balanced the romantic lyrics with slinky guitars and a touch of gravel in her voice. One particular standout was her ode to Nashville, For This Town, which reminded me a little of Miranda Lambert’s The House That Built Me. She also threw in a couple of covers including a gorgeous acapella version of Killing Me Softly, before going into the storytelling Southern rock of Future Ex Husband.
Jo finished her set with her current single, Old School Groove. Her smooth vocal shone through against the Motown influence of the song’s melody but whilst keeping a modern country touch throughout, perfectly summing up her style.
Overall I was impressed with Jo’s performance – she was chatty and confident on stage and the relaxed yet fun vibe of her music was utterly infectious. I predict big things for her in the future…
Set list: 1. Poster Child 2. Dance Dirty 3. Gotta Let Go 4. I Lied 5. Blissful 6. The Joker (Steve Miller Band cover) 7. Slow Dance With Your Memory/Hotline Bling (Drake cover) 8. For This Town 9. Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen cover) 10. Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack cover)/Future Ex Husband 11. Old School Groove Performance date: 22nd July 2017