Jody Gnant

Though she gained plenty of attention for participating in Kyle MacDonald's One Red Paper Clip trade project and her 24-hour lifestreams on the Internet, the music remains the best thing about this Phoenix-based indie musician. Her soulful mezzo-soprano voice fits the bluesy, funk-inflected material she writes. Her influences seem to come from various sources, including the blue-eyed soul of Bonnie Bramlett and the more accessible jazz of Diana Krall and Norah Jones. Her piano playing is effective, and it helps that she has an incredibly tight band formed by local musicians whose eclectic backgrounds help make Gnant's sound even more enjoyable. One of the highlights of Pivot, her new self-released disc, is the ballad "Over," which tells the story of a love affair that was doomed from the start. The arrangement, which is centered on Kristofer Hill's electric guitar, translates the general feel of the song from the very first chord. The paper clip saga is also remembered on the cheerful "Great Day," which encourages people to "go out and make a change." Another highlight is "Me Who Changed," a tune which goes into a flamenco direction — a risky approach that often backfires in the hands of American musicians. In this case, though, she emerges with flying colors, thanks to Adrian Goldenthal's bass line and, of course, Chris Jacome Burton's great acoustic guitar chops. The disc and all the attention she's been getting lately might break her into the big time — it's a just a matter of time until people forget about the gimmicks and start listening to the music, which is what really matters after all.

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