Daddy B. Nice's #34 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"I Never Take A Day Off"
Composed by John Cummings, Vertie Joann Delapaz, & Morris Williams
February 1, 2014: NEW ARTIST GUIDE ALERT!
--Daddy B. Nice
About Ms. Jody
Vertie Joann Delapaz (Ms. Jody) was born on November 10th in Chicago, Illinois. Two years after she was born, her parents--contractors in the Chicago area--returned to their former home in Bay Springs, Mississippi, about 65 miles southeast of Jackson, where they continued to live (and listen to a lot of R&B around the house) through Ms. Jody's childhood.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"The reason why
MS. JODY: It's A Ms. Jody Thang (Ecko) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.Ms. Jody has quietly emerged as one of Ecko Records' core performers, producing material with more frequency than her more established label-mates, Denise LaSalle and Sheba Potts-Wright.
It's A Ms. Jody Thang lacks the spectacular song that anchored three previous Ms. Jody albums, two centered around the lovely country-style anthem, "I Never Take A Day Off" (the title of Ms. Jody's 2008 CD) and one the showpiece of her great 2006 CD (What You Gonna Do When The Rent Is Due), namely, "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat." But It's A Ms. Jody Thang still has moments to please the Southern Soul fan.
The disc boasts the usual Ecko studio suspects. John Ward produced, Ward and Raymond Moore wrote all but one of the tunes, and Morris J. Williams contributes his usual background work.
The album starts well (a characteristic of all Ms. Jody's albums, come to think of it) with three likeable tracks. "Cheatin' Comes With A Price" opens with a mid-to-uptempo melody, followed by "You Got To Play With It To Lay With It," a "Your-Dog's-About-To-Kill-My-Cat" clone, succeeded by the rambunctious title cut, "Ms Jody's Thang (Remix)."
The new version of "Ms. Jody's Thing" lacks some of the propulsive tenacity of the original, which gets lost in some of the new "bells and whistles," and in the long run the song is a little light to anchor an entire CD. However, the fast jam will still put a bounce in your step.
The album sustains its momentum with "The Better The Goods, The Higher The Price," the fifth track, which has an eminently hummable melody and may have the genes of a solid Southern Soul single, (see Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Singles for April '09).
That clocks the CD at a minimum of some twenty minutes of fairly-seamless Southern Soul listening pleasure. Not bad these days, and thankfully, top-loaded for maximum listener enjoyment from the get-go.
The rest of the CD coasts as albums do. "He Takes Me Around The World Without Leaving My Bedroom" is a straight soul-blues. (Ms. Jody loves those extra-long, deejay-killing, song titles.)
"He's Coming In the Back Door" and "Loving You Is Like Doing Hard Time" are vanilla. However, "Only A Fool Would Cheat On A Good Man Like You" is a pretty impressive ballad that gives Ms. Jody some room to stretch out as a vocalist.
I've written elsewhere that although Ms. Jody has leaned heavily on her "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat" success, she shouldn't overlook mining the vein struck with "I Never Take A Day Off."
Actually, Ms. Jody may be doing just that, as "Cheatin' Comes With A Price" and "The Better The Goods The Higher The Price" do qualify as country-ish Southern Soul. They may turn out to be the cream of this CD.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced It's A Ms. Jody Thang
March 14, 2010:
MS. JODY: Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again (Ecko) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.The title song of Ms. Jody's new album, Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again, is a reworking of the Hi Records' classic by Al Jackson, Jr. and Timothy Matthews: Ann Peebles "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home."
Ms. Jody was probably in Ecko's studio in Memphis about the time Hi Records' Willie Mitchell, traditional Southern Soul's last great producer and the Memphis scene's king-in-residence, moved on to a spot at the Round Table in Soul Heaven.
Southern Soul music seems to have hit a creative wall, or at least a nasty speed bump, during the same period, although early-calendar months are traditionally slow.
A lot of mediocre material has surfaced, and true lovers of the form may find themselves wondering why they haven't heard music they can embrace in the same way they did the Southern Soul music of a few years ago.
My own theory is that the music being produced in 2010 is falling into one of two categories, each of which is flawed and sapping some of the vitality from the form.
On the one hand, the Delta-area artists like Ms. Jody who grew up in homes playing Southern Soul have grown overly cautious. Perhaps, with the renewed national and international interest in Southern Soul, they have a bit of stage fright.
Whatever the reasons, unlike masters like Bobby Bland and Clarence Carter and Brook Benton, who long ago proved Deep South musicians always benefit by plying mainstream forms such as pop, country and the like, today's contemporary artists who really know Southern Soul, who live and breathe it through their very pores, are hesitant to do so.
On the other hand, a growing number of R&B artists throughout the rest of the country have taken notice of Southern Soul music, and they are trying to get in on the fun and creativity without really understanding the hard-to-define magic and sound of the genre.
These artists and producers have never benefited from listening to the humble music stations of central Mississippi: Jackson, Vicksburg, the Greenville-Leland-Indianola corridor, East Helena, Arkansas and other isolated outposts. As a result, the musical conventions in their songs remain laced with urban, smooth and hiphop elements.
What is the way out of the paradox? True-blue Southern Soul artists, artists like Ms. Jody, should (unless they're inundated in great material already, which they're not) be stretching out into pop, country, and hiphop or zydeco or wherever else they hear great material or influences.
The results will still be Southern Soul--a more brilliant and intriguing Southern Soul. That's how pure the Southern Soul genes run in musicians like Ms. Jody.
And the latter category, the artists who don't know what Southern Soul is about (although they think they do) are the ones who should be copying and emulating and strictly adhering to the time-honored formulas.
Ms. Jody's very best song remains the unabashedly country-sounding "I Never Take A Day Off (From Loving My Baby)," a song that grafts her indigenous Southern Soul genetic make-up to country music in the way Candi Stanton did with Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."
But Ms. Jody's song is the better of the two. It's much less an experiment and much more the real thing (i.e. Ray Charles). Indeed, much of Ms. Jody's unique R&B vocal quality comes from the country inflection in her tone.
The primary flaw in Ms. Jody's new album is that too many of the songs come across as cliches. The songs of Gerard Rayborn in particular--"Tell Me When You Want It," "Finders Keepers" and "Deal With It"-- sound repetitive: the kind of adherence to "formulas" that I believe is only holding back Ms. Jody's full potential.
Rayborn is one of Ecko Records' most dependable and respected composers, but if you listened to Ecko recordings over the last decade, you'd swear you'd heard these songs before, and more than once. It's too bad songwriters don't move around to different labels, the way basketball players move around to different NBA teams, just to stir up the sounds.
"Tell Me When You Want It" is one of Rayborn's best contributions, with a brisk beat and a nice insinuating instrumental track. And I would be remiss not to note that one of the finest songs on the album, a kind of uptempo lounge ballad, "I Won't Be Back," is a Gerard Rayborn song. With distant echoes of vintage Dionne Warwick, "I Won't Be Back" may yet become the most intriguing single from the disc.
JoAnne Delapaz's (Ms. Jody's) three compositions show promise of her emerging writing acumen as well. "Weekend Loving" is a--coincidentally--Rayborn-like song with a swinging country accent, and "The Bop" is a pretty good attempt at a novelty dance song.
But the overwhelming redemption of this album is Ms. Jody's rare, God-given ability to sing ballads that pin your soul to your heart like a boutonniere.
Few singers of this era can transport you to the level of meditative, grown-up-level amorousness which Ms. Jody accomplishes so effortlessly and magnificently on ballads such as "I Wanna Make Love To You Tonight" (Jimmy Warren and Jimmy Barnett), "I've Got The Strength To Walk Away," (Raymond Moore) and "You Had It All."
These beautifully-sung ballads, along with the secondary virtue of the disc--producer John Ward's "golden-mean" arranging mastery--give the album a satisfying ambience and continuity.
Arguably the best listening on the CD is a four-song stretch (two of them Delapaz tunes) that begins with the second cut, the smooth, swinging "Weekend Lovin'" and continues with the "Wiggle"-like "The Bop" through the atmospheric "I Won't Be Back" and "I Wanna Make Love To You," both of which possess marvelous, sparkling, background choruses.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again CD, MP3's
March 1, 2010: NEW ALBUM ALERT
Bargain-Priced Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again
Comparison-Priced Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again
January 23, 2011:
Ms. Jody's "No Ordinary Pussycat" (w/ J. Blackfoot) wins BEST SOUTHERN SOUL COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR: See 4th Annual "Daddies," Southern Soul Music Awards
March 1, 2011: NEW ALBUM ALERT
Bargain-Priced Ms. Jody's Keepin' It Real CD
Read Daddy B. Nice's review of Ms. Jody's KEEPIN' IT REAL CD: Scroll down to Tidbits #8.
April 21, 2011:
MS. JODY: Ms. Jody's Keepin' It Real (Ecko) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.Not only is Ms. Jody "just folks" in the best sense of the term; she's one of only a handful of female Southern Soul performers to have accomplished the hardest task in the music business. She's built a brand, producing a steady stream of CD's over the last half-dozen years that have left just about every one of her competitors in the dust.
Ms. Jody came onto the scene in the mid-aughts with one of the most terrific groups of female Southern Soul singers ever, among them Nellie "Tiger" Travis ("If I Back It Up"), Tazz Calhoun ("Stroke It Easy"), Little Kim Stewart ("Bootleg Baby"), Renea Mitchell ("Seventeen Days Of Loving") and Miz B. ("My Name Is $$$$$'s").
Of the group, only Nellie "Tiger" Travis has shown equivalent talent and staying power, but after releasing two CD masterpieces with producer/writer Floyd Hamberlin, Travis has inexplicably backed away from Southern Soul music, concentrating on straight blues, pretty much leaving the field to Ms. Jody. And Ms. Jody hasn't disappointed.
With more than a little chutzpah, the central-Mississippi country girl debuted with a little-recognized song called "Ms. Jody," followed it up with a debut album featuring the beautiful country-slash-southern soul classic, "I Never Take A Day Off (Without Loving My Baby)," then solidified her growing reputation only six months later with an album showcasing the humorous and musically unique chitlin' circuit classic, "Yo Dog's About To Kill My Cat."
The song garnered Ms. Jody a "Daddy Award" as Best Female Vocalist of 2007, and the one-two punch of those two dazzling songs made Ms. Jody's name on the chitlin' circuit.
Three albums later, Ms. Jody finds herself at the top of the Southern Coul CD charts. Her previous album's "The Bop" (from Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again CD) has enjoyed a long chart life.
But at just the time when Ms. Jody's at her zenith, her albums have become increasingly formulaic, unimaginative and repetitive. And this new album, Ms. Jody's Keepin' It Real, is lacking any good new material, not to mention a true hit. Ironically, at the moment of her greatest exposure--her "moment in the sun"--Ms. Jody is offering her most watered-down product.
Southern Soul's two senior divas, Shirley Brown and Denise LaSalle, went through mediocre middle periods following the benchmark songs that made their names. As Southern Soul music reinvented itself in the 21st century, both divas saw the light and returned to excellence with great albums utilizing the best material they could find, usually the most outstanding songs on the circuit by artists such as Luther Lackey and Frederick Knight.
Listening to tracks from Ms. Jody's new CD--"Take Me," "The Jody Juke," "Move On," "I've Got The Strength To Stay Gone" and so on--is like listening to any of the last three CD's over and over again: chord progressions of the most elementary sort, predictable tempos, background singing so familiar it's irritating, a total absence of interesting hooks, and arrangements so derivative of her former work it's like answering the doorbell and facing those unwanted, free-loading relatives you never wanted to see again.
The one consistent plus is Ms. Jody's vocals. The singer's delivery caresses and cajoles every beaten down old dog of a song, but how long can Ms. Jody get away with it before the audience catches on to the fact she's not bringing anything new?
And if Ms. Jody keeps repeating herself in this fashion she may find newer voices with fresher material, artists like Pat Cooley and Betty Padgett--or even younger singers like Lacee and Lina--replacing her at the top of the heap.
Your Daddy B. Nice has been pushing hard for Ms. Jody from the get-go, since she was an unknown musician as obscure as the "no-names" on this month's Top Ten Singles.
I remember someone along the way (perhaps Ecko's John Ward) telling me how hard it was to convince Ms. Jody to record "Yo Dog Is About To Kill My Cat." She didn't want to do it, she didn't think it was her kind of song. And she was wrong.
Like "I Never Take A Day Off," it was exactly HER kind of song. In music, it often takes blending contrasts and exotic influences to challenge the artist to greater heights.
There are lots of sycophants and hangers-on ready and raring to tell a successful artist that everything they touch turns to gold. Just the other day, in the blurb for an upcoming concert, I heard Ms. Jody referred to as the "Queen of Southern Soul."
I don't have a problem with that; Ms. Jody has earned it. But what made Ms. Jody successful in the first place was that she brought something new and different to the table.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Ms. Jody's Keepin' It Real CD, MP3's
Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Ms. Jody
Listen to Ms. Jody's "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat" on YouTube.
October 29, 2011: NEW ALBUM ALERT
Bargain-Priced Ms. Jody's In The House CD
Comparison-Priced Ms. Jody's In The House CD
See Daddy B. Nice's #1 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for November 2011" "When Your Give A Damn Don't Give A Damn Any More"
See Daddy B. Nice's 2011 "Best Of Southern Soul" Awards: Best Female Vocalist: "When Your Give A Damn Just Don't Give A Damn Any More" by Ms. Jody
December 10, 2011:
MS. JODY: Ms. Jody's In The House (Ecko) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.
Can Ms. Jody, who's being touted as the new Queen of Southern Soul, have been with us only a half-dozen years? It's hard to believe, but true. The sweet-singing, hard-working performer has released six full-length CD's in that time span.
The first, You're My Angel, went largely unnoticed (as per most debuts), introducing Ms. Jody's first noteworthy single, the country-influenced "I Never Take A Day Off (From Loving My Baby)."
The debut also lay down the formula for one of Ms. Jody's most durable draws: simplistic but memorable and often self-referential dance jams, in this case the tune "Ms. Jody," which foreshadowed such subsequent hit singles as "Ms. Jody's Thing" and "Ms. Jody's Keeping It Real."
The second CD, What You Gonna Do When The Rent Is Due, featured the hit single, "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat," a uniquely-arranged ballad loosely based on Billy "Soul" Bonds' "Scat Cat, Kitty Kitty" and other "dog" (man) vs. "cat (woman) songs popular in 21st Century Southern Soul music. The album also featured another popular single in "Big Daddy Don't You Come."
The third disc, I Never Take A Day Off, reprised Ms. Jody's 2006 single (the title tune) for a much larger audience the diva hadn't yet gained on her earlier release. The album also contained a number of memorable singles including "Energizer Bunny," "It's The Weekend," "Lonely Housewife" and "Ms. Jody's Thing."
A slight drop-off in quality marred three subsequent albums, It's A Ms. Jody Thang and Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again and Ms. Jody's Keeping It Real.
Your Daddy B. Nice was particularly critical of the latter, released earlier this year, questioning whether Ms. Jody was beginning to repeat herself and whether her musical formulas were growing stale.
There were no such qualms on the part of most critics, however, and led by "The Bop" (from Ms. Jody's In The Streets Again), one of those simple but hooky dance jams at which Ms. Jody has always excelled, the Mississippi diva's reputation took its greatest strides.
Many of the accolades could be attributed to Ms. Jody's sheer determination--her visibility on the concert scene and the frequency of her output--which trumped occasional lapses in quality.
In the same time period, the two greatest female Southern Soul singers of the day--namely, Shirley Brown and Denise LaSalle--were putting out their own masterpieces, but at a much less furious pace, and Ms. Jody's main competition in the younger ranks--the immensely talented Nellie "Tiger" Travis--had fallen off.
Now, as if to satisfy both diehard fans and critics, Ms. Jody has released a second CD in one year, Ms. Jody's In The House, just in time for wrapping and placement under the Christmas tree. And the new sounds in the CD are bound to please everyone. Ms. Jody's In The House is as chock full of gold-plated material as any of her early triumvirate of CD's. In fact, it may be Ms. Jody's finest LP to date.
The album is anchored by Ms. Jody's most substantial song since "I Never Take A Day Off" and "Your Dog Is Killing My Cat." The song is "When Your Give A Damn Just Don't Give A Damn Any More," which is loosely based--or in the tradition of--Latimore's "My Give A Damn Gave Out (A Long Time Ago)."
This tune succeeds on so many levels it could almost walk on water, and in recognizing it your Daddy B. Nice wrote:
Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .
1. "When Your Give A Damn Just Don't Give A Damn Any More"---------Ms. Jody
Ms. Jody's finest chorus since "I Never Take A Day Off." The tune begins with the bass line and chords from "Groovin,'" but Ms. Jody soon floats away on her own sun-kissed cloud of inspiration. John Ward's carefully modulated arrangement is key. Before you realize it, you're asking yourself, "Did I just listen to Ms. Jody sing and testify for six-plus minutes?"
The album furnishes two renditions of "When Your Give A Damn Just Don't Give A Damn Any More," a "radio version" and the extended take critiqued above, and such is the pull of the song I still haven't bothered to listen to the shorter radio track. Ms. Jody has "voiced-over" (or talked) on many songs from her catalog, most recently in "Ms. Jody's Keeping It Real." But she has never delved into a subject (getting out of a bad relationship) with such convincing emotional authority.
And yet, even that doesn't address the 100 per cent-proof credibility she musters on "When Your Give A Damn Just Don't Give A Damn Any More." After all, there are countless examples of authority and credibility that one wouldn't want to listen to over and over again.
Ms. Jody's voice-over on "When Your Give A Damn Just Don't Give A Damn Any More" transcends its message. It works not only as content but as style, the words doing their Ella Fitzgerald thing while meshing musically to perfection with that bass hook and that deeply satisfying organ-style keyboard. The result: pure soul--Southern Soul--to be precise.
The measuring stick of just how good this CD is the song "Southern Soul Dip," a throwback to "The Bop" and "Ms. Jody's Thang."
Whatever you thought of "The Bop," which captivated many fans but also had some scratching their heads, wondering what all the fuss was about, the fact was it was fairly light fare. If this were just another Ms. Jody album in the generic sense (the pattern over the last couple of CD's), the "Southern Soul Dip" would have been the anchor song, and it would have been surrounded by lesser, even "lighter" tunes. And yet "Southern Soul Dip," this album's version of "The Bop," not only isn't the best (i.e. anchor) song on the CD. It's not even among the top three or four tracks. And it's still pretty damned good.
Here are the heavyweight tracks:
"Something I Want": This is the duet with David Brinston that has charted on Southern Soul stations all summer. Despite a mediocre melody, the tune has a killer hook that the arrangement pounds home with the finality of a mountain man splitting firewood with a sledge and wedge.
"Let Me Be The Shoulder": This song was the centerpiece of a little-noticed album by singer Brenda Williams, the wife of Morris J. Williams (long associated with Ecko Records in Memphis). It's an indication of how thoroughly Ms. Jody cast her net for "primo" material. The ballad sounds like a Southern Soul standard.
"You Lost A Fortune": Another inspired choice of a retread tune, this one originally done by Lorraine Turner, and (like the Brenda Williams ballad) also a song that sounds like a classic via Ms. Jody's version.
"I Never Knew Good Love Could Hurt So Bad": Here's a completely unexpected, blues-oriented, future classic. It's got a little B. B. King. It's got more than a little R. Kelly in his best southern soul & blues mode, i.e. "You Made Me Love You." The song is terrific.
"I Did It": This track also made it onto Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles" as follows:
Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .
2. "I Did It"---------Ms. Jody
I've always been a sucker for nursery rhymes (not to mention military chants) in popular songs--they always seem to be so much fun--and this material is perfect for Ms. Jody. "I Did It" also has a nifty rhythm section reminiscent of Johnny Otis's Bo-Diddley-inspired "Hand Jive."
On a slightly lower tier of success, the collection offers "Ms. Jody's Thang (Zydeco Remix)," which is very catchy (and a former DBN "breaking" single), "Southern Soul Dip" (this CD's "The Bop"), "Come A Little Closer," "I Just Wanna Love You" and "Just A Little Bit Won't Get It."
With arrangements by John Ward & company that are especially attuned to the seasoned Southern Soul ear, and with songwriting from Ward, Raymond Moore, Joanne Delapaz (Ms. Jody), Brenda & Morris Williams, Sam Fallie, Gerod Rayburn and Susan Shelby, every one of the bunch hitting on all cylinders, this album makes all the right decisions and reaps the benefits.
Even the filler on this musically-rich CD has the magic touch. "Ms. Jody's In The House," a one-minute, twenty-two second appetizer (on which Ms. Jody doesn't even sing) featuring a "house" rhythm track and some uncredited male singers chanting "Ms. Jody," accompanied by cheers, hand-claps and a persistent "wolf" whistler, works to perfection.
Southern Soul Heaven.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Ms. Jody's In The House CD
Comparison-Priced Ms. Jody's In The House CD
Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Ms. Jody.
Ms. Jody on I-Tunes
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
Honorary "B" Side
"Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat"
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