I remember the first time I fell under the spell of Jo Mango. I remember it just like it was last Thursday, or Wednesday as Thursday was, in truth, more than a bit foggy. Or maybe it was some sort of alcohol induced fantasy of a better world where beauty was prized and false gods were only worshipped by those wanting a free trip to Television Centre.
So there was Jo Mango. A late substitute, as I recall. She had an acoustic guitar and a variety of compact and bijou instruments and the most delicate and simply enchanting voice that I had heard in quite some time. It is pleasing therefore to note that her album “Murmuration” retains all of that unforced, even mystical, charm.
When you listen to “Near Certainty”, you could, if you were cruel and cold of heart, classify her as the queen of the bedsit folksters. That would, however, do Jo Mango an injustice. Whilst she does stay on the fey side of the street throughout this album and she most definitely is aimed at detail rather than strategy, Jo Mango demonstrates a mastery of the trivial and she has the ability to transport even the seemingly inconsequential into the starbright world of poetry.
There is no more effective example of her abilities than the bleak symmetry of “The Black Sun” that proves she is possessed a power to induce emotion in the listener. In much the same vein, the fragile sentimentality of “The Moth and The Moon” is so unforced and natural that it transcends saccharine sweetness and takes you instead on a journey towards the devotional.
Even in a song as conventional, and dare I say it commercial, as “Every Certainty”, Jo Mango still manages to suggest the intimacy of a soul mate whilst aligning her words with Shakespeare. She is but a short distance from the mainstream and yet she could so easily be a siren sent to save you.
I’m sure that there are singers with better voices but it is a test of your very humanity to even attempt to foster a dislike of Jo Mango.