While some artists have a crossover appeal, others target specific segments, particularly various age groups. Canadian singer/songwriter Jodi King sets such an example, with her sunny, young lyrics. Teenagers may gravitate toward her optimistic attitude and songs that address becoming an adult.
King has toured her homeland for the past two years, building word of mouth on the strength of her live shows and her two EPs, The Acoustic EP and Street Lights. Her full-length debut, Little Smile, showcases her straightforward voice with bare-bones production.
Her voice reminiscent of a younger, cheerier Michelle Branch, King writes from a personal perspective. Her youth comes through in tracks such as “My Boyfriend’s Jeans,” featuring lyrics from a dreamy-eyed teenage girl’s heart. “Nothing looks as good as I feel/In my boyfriend’s jeans,” she coos, while dismissing the latest mall fashion trends. One could imagine this tune faring well on media geared toward younger audiences, such as Radio Disney, but she also co-wrote tracks clearly designed for adult contemporary radio, such as “Your Reason,” which vaguely resembles Branch’s recent hit “Everywhere.”
Maturity is most present in “Home” and “Breathing In/Breathing Out,” both evoking her love of Winnipeg. King possesses a lovely, pleasant voice, virtually whispering one moment while hitting soaringly high notes the next. The lyrics to “Breathing In/Breathing Out” best represent the hopeful, youthful tone of the entire album. “Sooner or later you’ll be off on your own/A world to discover, a life to begin,” she sings. Lines such as “Boys can be mean but don’t be afraid” definitely suggest that the song, like many on Little Smile, addresses a teenage crowd.
Songs such as “Will You Be Waiting” and “Happy” express the first blush of love, expressing emotions that anyone can relate to. Finally departing from the dominantly acoustic tone of the album, King tries a slightly harder rock sound with “Synthesize,” but the theme remains the same: “You and I we seem to fit together/I’ll never find another,” she sings wistfully. Again, the track never departs from the upbeat, almost naïve tone of Little Smile.
A younger audience may appreciate King’s Little Smile, as her optimistic, youthful lyrics and “girl next door” image would appeal to young girls. However, those looking for deeper, mature themes may wish to look elsewhere.