Jimi Goodwin – Odludek (Heavenly Recordings)

Odludek (which is Polish for “loner” or “pilgrim”) is the first we’re hearing from any of the members of Doves since the Manchester band went on break in 2010. Four years in the making, the album finds vocalist Jimi Goodwin re-affirming the talent that made his old band one of the U.K.’s better acts of the new millennium. Opener “Terracotta Warrior” is typical of the Doves’ sound – Goodwin’s recognizable vocals, paired with spacey instrumentation (love the use of two drummers!) and a finely-detailed production that screams out for listeners to strap on a pair of good headphones. Now this may be a disappointment for someone who wants Goodwin’s solo work to deliver shocks of the new, but you can at least take solace that, were this a Doves song, it would be their best since 2002’s The Last Broadcast. Odludek also allows Goodwin to explore new territory, though unfortunately it begins on a sour note with abrasive synth-pop parts bubbling up on “Live Like A River”. The experiments get better on “Man vs. Dingo”, a dark cabaret-like number that probably couldn’t have worked in the context of a Doves album. “Oh Whiskey”, “Panic Tree” and “Hope” introduce a rootsy “American” sound you don’t expect from Goodwin, given his Manchester pedigree; but he’s got the chops to pull it off. At the end of the day Odludek probably stays too close enough to Doves to open up any new doors for Jimi Goodwin, but it’s still a very good listen, and in 2014 that’s more than enough to make it a victory.