There comes a point when some songwriters stop listening to music for pleasure and start to view it as a research activity. Dissecting particular chord sequences or the way melodies interweave can provide creative inspiration and direction. Odludek, the debut solo effort from Doves frontman Jimi Goodwin, is an unpredictable genre-shifter and the Mancunian songwriter isn’t afraid to admit why.
“The record is all the things that I’d want to hear in someone’s record,” Goodwin says. “It’s a tribute to all the things that I admire, from Duke Ellington to hip hop to Steely Dan – loads of music.”
Indeed, from the blurting, distorted opener ‘Terracotta Warrior’to the fiendish cabaret of ‘Man V Dingo’ and the perky acoustics of ‘Panic Tree’, Goodwin declines to pledge allegiance to just one influence.
“I’ve always loved sampling culture,” Goodwin says. “It’s an art form for me. I’ve always loved the reinvention and the inspiration you can get from 100-odd years of recorded music. You can juxtapose a weird fiddle from a 1930s folk track with a bassline from a ’70s James Brown [song].”
This level of stylistic irreverence might read like a recipe for compositional congestion, but Doves fans will be pleased by the consistent presence of Goodwin’s plaintive croon. Still, he tried to ignore the precedent set by the alt-indie heroes’ much-loved catalogue.
“This is my life,” he says. “I’m not bothered about what I did, it’s about what I want to do now. I’m not Bowie doing Ziggy; I wish I could be that fucking maverick and completely change my outfit and become this [new identity]. But weirdly, in a fantasy world, I’m trying on a new suit and who knows where it will go?”
Doves’ most recent release is 2009’s Kingdom Of Rust, so Odludek comes after a reasonably prolonged interval. The record shows no signs of apprehension, but Goodwin inevitably felt some uncertainty moving on without his trusted Doves counterparts, Andy and Jez Williams.
“Before I started making it [I thought], ‘Where next?’ I’ve just been in a band for my whole adult life – where do I go then? Do I even want to do music? Am I any good at it? I’d never questioned my love of music since I was seven years old. Up until when Doves went on a break in 2010, I’d never had time to question it. That’s healthy, you have to take stock and go, ‘Right – is this you?’”
Judging by the finished product, Goodwin’s love of music was resoundingly confirmed. Aside from the odd vocal guest (including his old pal, Elbow’s Guy Garvey), Goodwin took responsibility for all the record’s instrumentation.
“When I first started this project, I was going to get in lots of different collaborators, because I’d been used to collaborating with people forever. I enjoy being part of a unit, but I realised if I was going to wait around for everyone that might want to work with me, I’d be still waiting now. You’ve just got to get on with it.”
Odludek is evidence of Goodwin seizing upon the opportunity to go wherever his instincts pleased. However, launching into this next chapter of his career, he’s not comfortable with the tag ‘solo artist’.
“The whole thing to me is called Odludek. It might be a band of one right now, but it’s a band. I have to look at it like that, because that’s all I’m used to. My fucking name, it sounds like some blues thing. You know: ‘Jimi Goodwin Band’. Odludek, treat it like a new artist. In my naivety, that’s what it is.”
Odludek out now through Heavenly Recordings/[PIAS]