Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Fate had gloomy plans for Ida Jo’s “Providence”

With soulful vocals that could just as easily be placed over
an R&B track as over the sharp violin instrumentals featured on this album,
Providence, Ida Jo’s solo debut
collection of short, sweet ballads, is an interesting foray into her world of
“folk” music.

Her songs, mostly minor-keyed, are generally sung out of
tune, which makes for an extremely frustrating listening experience for the
audience. Specifically, the track entitled “Proud” is almost too painful to sit
through. You want her to find the right note, and to belt it out strongly – you
really are rooting for her! – but she is simply unable to do so.

Lyrically, the album redeems itself a bit, and seems to have
something to say. Although some of the lyrics are fairly clich?, the ideas
supporting Providence are positive
ones. “Courage. Strength. Devotion.” is the way her album is described at, and these messages come through strongly. Each song has
clear meaning, and Ida Jo’s melodies and lyrics effectively convey these
messages to the audience. However, even divine providence could not have saved
this mess of a production.


Ida Jo’s violin playing is absolutely spectacular, and is
unquestionably the highlight of the album. Born and raised in Duluth,
Minnesota, this artist began her violin training at age 7, using the
world-renowned Suzuki method. Her classical education shines through on the
album, which combines a slew of different musical styles to create one folksy
finished product. Having performed at multiple music festivals – including the
Winnipeg Folk Festival, Summerfest, and SXSW – she has always been surrounded
by talented musicians, which shows through in her electrifying and powerful
violin playing.

But once again, it is hard to look past the vocals lowering
the album to an unfortunately amateur level, when it had the potential to be a
real instrumental tour-de-force from this young artist. On tracks like “He’ll
Never Know,” she would be better off sticking to the lower vocal range with
which she begins the song, but instead she moves into an unpleasant falsetto
that detracts from the moving lyrics, and distracts the listener from the delightful
background instrumentals.

On one of the slower tracks, “Radio,” the listener finds
himself waiting for the violin to kick in, because that is by far the highlight
of each song, but it never does. Although the vocals on this track are
relatively in tune – and are fairly enjoyable with an organ accompaniment – the
song never picks up, and ends as weakly as it begins. This track is a real low
point on the album, the listener is relieved when the violin bursts back onto
the scene with the following track, “Courage.”

Providence would
do well to end with a kicking tune in which Ida Jo rocks out on her violin, but
instead ends with the droning “What I’ve Had To Do.” As always, the lyrics are
powerful, and the instrumental performance is technically excellent, but the
song is seriously lacking. Her innovative “choppy” technique of violin playing
has the potential to take Ida Jo to great career heights, but divine providence
apparently did not have that in the cards for her debut album.

2 out of 5 stars

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