Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Folk-tinged pop? (JoAnn Whetsell)
Most recent release, The Sweetwater Sessions (re-recordings, 2020)
Jonatha Brooke's page
Jonatha Brooke's MySpace page
The Ectophiles' Guide entry for The Story, Jonatha Brooke's previous group
Suzanne Vega, The Story
Own and co-written
I love Jonatha's music. I think when I first heard Plumb my first thought was that she was a more melodic version of Suzanne Vega. Her lyrics are wonderful ("No Better" and "Paris" from the aforementioned CD come to mind). She's a good guitarist. Her songs have an immediate hook without being too "pop". At least in my opinion. (JavaHo@aol.com)
I just love her voice! Something about it just fills me with emotion.... (Riphug@aol.com)
Jonatha Brooke, formerly one half of The Story, is quickly making a name for herself as one of the most engrossing musicians in folk music today. She has great lyrics, great melodies, and her sound, both pop and rock rooted in folk, have wide appeal. And she just keeps getting better and better with each album. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Comments about live performance:
I did not particularly take to Plumb the way I took to the two The Story albums (and especially Grace in Gravity which I think is *genius*)...but I will tell you that *live* Jonatha Brooke is extraordinarily great. And Ingrid, doing light percussion and vocal harmonies is superb. Possibly better than Jennifer—stronger voice, I would say. They did stuff from Plumb and Angel in the House (and 1 new song about getting blood from a storm and wine from water or something like that), and nothing from Grace in Gravity—to my dismay—until the end when they were deciding on the last song to do. I yelled "Over Oceans" and she said they'd screw it up, so then I just said "anything from Grace in Gravity" and they did the title track which was EXCEPTIONAL. I am still feeling some shivers from that song. Jonatha really impresses me...I had not seen her live in 4 years. I would strongly encourage anyone on the fence about The Story at this point to definitely see them *live* on this tour if at all possible. Wow. (circa 1995, email@example.com)
Having only known her from the CD Plumb which I'm not all that big on, I was pleasantly surprised. She put on a wonderful, all-too-short set. I may have to go and reevaluate the CD. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jonatha is an attractive woman, an awesome singer, and a great performer. Her positive energy and amicable personality spilled like liquid smiles all over the stage and onto the room, and every one there seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves as they listened to and viewed Jonatha's performance.
Jonatha would do ballerina-like stretches in between songs; she would tease us with nearly a cappella renditions of lounge standards such as "Feelings" and "Muskrat Love"; and she would share with us some of the insights of her compositions. At one point she noticed a Disco-era crystal ball on the ceiling, and demanded that it be turned on for good cheers. At another point she, in a very serious pose, asked: "are there any questions?" To which some dude from the audience yelled: "what's your name?" To which she coolly replied: "Jonatha Brooke; and I am a girl", all while doing that thing she does with her eyes...(look at the top, left corner of the back of the 10 cent wings jewel box to see what I mean).
She was backed by a three-member band. Ingrid Graudins, who sings back-up on the 10 cent wings disc, was great at the keyboard and back-up vocals. There were also a great drummer and a great bassist. And I do mean great; they were not mere accompaniment, but could be seen, and heard, working out a sweat as they added their own contributions to the great music emanating from the stage. Ever pay attention to the bass work in "crumbs"?
Jonatha played acoustic guitar on some of the songs, and a very cool-looking electric guitar on others. And she just sang, well, more like "interpreted" with full-body motions on "10 cent wings", as Ingrid whaled on the Kurzweil 2000 unit. The bassist swapped basses here and there. The drummer had a drum set, which he stroke with sticks, brushes, and bare hands; he also played a certain percussion instrument, an Eastern-looking drum, on one of the songs. It was a great show, and I came home on a natural high. Seeing Jonatha Brooke "up-close and personal" has been the cherry-pick of my musical year. (email@example.com)
I'd never actually heard Jonatha's music before, but figured I'd like her nonetheless, from various reviews I had heard. So I drove the hour to get there, was shocked by how high the admission fee was, and was not very impressed at all. None of the songs were memorable, her lyrics were fairly unintelligible, and her guitar playing was undistinguished. Her stage banter and mannerisms reminded me a lot of Sarah McLachlan's—very full of her herself and very aware of her own talents—but without Sarah McLachlan's pristine vocals. I enjoyed her between-song ballerina moves, and the much-larger-than-I-expected crowd really loved her, but I just could not get into it. Perhaps if I could understand the lyrics or had known her music beforehand...but she didn't come close to winning me over. I went expecting to love her, to buy all her CDs, but left disappointed and thinking the venue owed me my money back. Perhaps it was a case of too-high expectations, but Brooke was really mediocre in my opinion. My friend and I both walked out early.
Anyhow, a compilation called Live from The River Music Hall Vol. 1has a live version of a song called "Crumbs" by Joanatha Brooke that blew me away. It was mesmerizing. I don't understand what happened the other night. I couldn't understand a word she sung that night, but here she sang clear and beautifully. Maybe it was the sound, or maybe it was the fact that it was 95 degrees in there...not sure. (5/99, firstname.lastname@example.org)
The last time I saw Ms. Brooke, she was singing with someone named Jennifer Kimball. Guess it's been a while. :} She impressed me as a very engaging performer, a much better guitarist than I remembered with a voice even more notable in person than it is on her albums. Her in-between song banter was self-deprecatingly funny and sharp, and she fearlessly interacted with the audience.
She played several new songs from the album she is in the process of recording for a release in early 2001. I think it's going to be another good one, like 10 cent Wings. She also did a couple songs from the old days of The Story ("So Much Mine" and "Angel In The House"). When she broke a string halfway through the encore she finished the song stunningly a cappella, and when the overflowing room called her back for a second round she decided to sing "In The Gloaming" a cappella as well, "because that was so much fun."
Note to self: see Jonatha Brooke a lot more often. (6/00, email@example.com)
Recommended first album:
Any. The Story fans may want to start with Plumb. Live includes songs from her solo albums as well as a few from The Story. 10c Wings is an equally good starting point, particularly for people unfamiliar with The Story, and is her truly solo debut. (JoAnn Whetsell)
(as Jonatha Brooke and The Story)
1995—Dog Dream Music/MCA/GRP Records—BTD-7003
Medium to high, depending on your taste
Jonatha Brooke—vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Alain Mallet—piano, keyboards, programming, Wurlitzer, accordion, Rhodes, shakers, drum programming
Duke Levine—electric guitars, mandolin, mando-cello, lap steel, acoustic slide guitar, acoustic guitar, backwards guitar
Michael Rivard—bass, upright bass, electric bass
Abe Laboriel—drums, tambourine, dumbek, shakers, percussion
Tom West—B-3 organ
John MacVey—background vocals
Ingrid Graudins—background vocals, harmony vocal
Bruce Cockburn—vocals, acoustic guitar
Shawn Pelton—drums, snare/brush overdubs
Eileen Ivers—violin, electric violin
Jay Bellerose—djembe, dumbek, marching band bass drum
Aydin Esen—string arrangement and conducting
Ben Wisch—background vocals
Jerry O'Sullivan—uilleann pipes
Anders Bostrom—piccolo, Chinese flute
This is a Desert Island Disc for me, because every life needs to lighten up occasionally—those inevitable troubled nights on the island would be brightened considerably with Jonatha's joyful approach to her music. I love her. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I liked it initially but am starting to like it somewhat less upon repeated listens for some reason. (email@example.com)
Plumb is interesting. Definitely not folk, so why's it in the folk section? :) It's not quite what I expected, but it fulfilled expectations anyway (does that make sense?) The lyrics are oddly obtuse sometimes though. I never did figure out what's up with "Where Were You". My first exposure to Jonatha Brooke came through this album, which was so good, I had to buy Angel In The House. Jonatha's got a strong voice, but more importantly, some great lyrics. :) Favorite Track: "Nothing Sacred". (Nyxnight@aol.com)
Hmmm. I think it's a nice album, but doesn't hold a candle to Grace In Gravity. I like the single but the rest of the album hasn't done that much for me. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To me, Plumb will always sound like "Jonatha without Jennifer". I think it is a good album, actually, and I think the musicians in The Story are still superb, but I just can't get past that and enjoy it. I would recommend you get either of the first two albums by The Story: Grace in Gravity, and Angel in the House. Jennifer & Jonatha, along with Alain Mallet, Ben Wittman, and Duke Levine. What a combination! (email@example.com)
I was immediately taken by the album. Having never heard any of their stuff before, I found it to be a real refreshing sound. Some of the tracks, especially "Inconsolable" (?), and "Is This All?" (I think, I don't have the CD in front of me, so I'm not entirely sure of the exact titles) really hit a spot in my somewhat wounded soul. Real fine stuff. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
i really miss Jennifer Kimball, but it is damn good nonetheless. i really miss the harmonizations. i mean that is what makes the story. BUT jonatha has a gorgeous voice, and her song writing is really good. (email@example.com)
i *really* like the single "nothing sacred," but the rest of the album didn't impress me as much. i do agree about her voice though—i really like it. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I have listened to Jonatha in depth. Jonatha is wonderful; what a lovely voice and lines from her lyrics stay with me all day even though I don't find the music catchy at all. (email@example.com)
Plumb has some really great songs that are some of my favorites (West Point, Full-Fledged Strangers) and some others that just don't work very well. There is good stylistic variety here, with some songs more rock and some songs more folk, some faster and some slow. Overall, it seems a natural extension of her work with The Story, but I think she really hit her stride as a solo artist with her later work. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Jonatha Brooke—vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, xylopipes, piano
Alain Mallet—Wurlitzer, piano, keyboards, loops, sequences, arrangements
Abe Laboriel—extra large drums, tambourine, shaker, vocals
Ben Wittman—many colored drums
Mike Rivard—bass, vocals
Duke Levine—electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandola, lap steel, 12-string, vocals
Gerry Leonard—electric guitar, slide, samples, vocals
Marc Shulman—electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Gota Yashiki, Groove Activator, Christer Jansson—additional drumming
Peter Cirelli—tuba, bass trombone
Karl Berger—string arrangement and conducting
10c Wings is a little quieter than Plumb, but no less funky. I would suggest listening to either of those CDs first, then check out The Story (with Jennifer Kimball). I like them, but I don't think they are as consistently interesting as Jonatha's solo discs. By the way, her husband Alain Mallet lays down some very tasty piano on much of her stuff. It's definitely more toward the mainstream (although not in a dull, radio-fodder way). (JavaHo@aol.com)
So this is one of the albums that I listened to most in the past couple of months. I love The Story's first album Grace in Gravity, and I quite liked Plumb, but I think this is one of my favourites of Jonatha's. Catchy songs, nothing too special or complicated, easy to listen to. Only a few songs stick in my head though, and it's quite a good album to listen to while I'm working. The only real flaw is that in my opinion the title track should be the last song on the album. "10c Wings" seems the perfect ending, but there are two songs after that which for some reason don't work that well, even though on their own they're not lacking or less than the rest of the album. Am I making sense here? :-) (Marion)
These equal the best lyrics I heard this year, and the tunes are crackers too. Experiments also work exceedingly well. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Brutally accurate songs from the front, sung by an angel. Contains my new favorite Christmas song, "Secrets and Lies." Her hubby gets my nomination for producer of the year. (email@example.com)
Damn near brilliant. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For the record I also think very highly of Jonatha Brooke's latest, "Secrets and Lies". Very strong. (email@example.com)
Absolutely wonderful. A polished album that sounds fresh every time. Great lyrics and melodies; these songs are catchy and thoughtful. I particularly like "Annie", "Secrets and Lies", and my favorite, "Blood From a Stone".
This weekend I put on 10 cent wings (I pulled it out accidentally instead of the Live album but decided to play it anyway). It had been such a long time since I'd listened to it, and I'd forgotten how good it was. Especially good to hear again songs that didn't make the Live album like "Crumbs," "Secrets and Lies," and my favorite, "Landmine." (JoAnn Whetsell)
1998—Bad Dog Records—7051-60201-2
Ingrid Graudins—keyboards, vocals
Nick D'Virgilio—dumbek, bass, drums, vocals
Marcus Miller—fretless bass (overdubbed)
Stunning! She does most of my favorite tracks from Plumb and Ten Cent Wings plus a traditional song "In the Gloaming." These live versions are not merely re-doings of the songs, but re-creations, making new and wonderful things out of them. I think it's interesting that Jonatha doesn't play any instruments here. However her voice is so rich and emotive here, it more than makes up for it. Most of it is somehow crunchier, less dense than the album versions. "Crunchier" is the wrong word; perhaps starker. No, it's crisper is what it is. "Ten Cent Wings" in very sparse arrangement—vocals, keyboards, cello—and is beautiful. I like it better than the album version, though it's still not one of my favorite of Jonatha's songs. "Because I Told You So", slower here, becomes heartbreakingly beautiful. The only mis-steps here are "Where Are You" and "In the Gloaming", which is a beautiful a cappella duet, but doesn't make a real good ending song for this album. I think my favorites are "Blood From a Stone" and "At the Still Point." Ingrid Graudins' vocals are right on. When I first listened to part of this in a store, I thought it sounded pretty good and that it would definitely go on my "buy-it-after-i-have-bought-other-albums list. Now I'm sorry I didn't get it sooner. It's a great follow-up. And I'm kicking myself for not seeing her when she played at my school. (JoAnn Whetsell)
I find it extremely excellent good :-) (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)
jonatha brooke's live cd is low-key, intimate, vital, and engaging. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2001—Bad Dog Records—BDR-60801-2; 2001—Bad Dog Records—BDR-CD-60802 Borders exclusive version with 3 bonus tracks
Jonatha Brooke—vocals, acoustic guitar, Polynesian ukelele, piano, fingerbeatz and cat hair remover, bass, Wurlitzer, sitano, keyboards, guitar, baritone guitar, electric guitar, string arrangement on "New Dress"
Larry Aberman—drums, percussion
Bob Clearmountain—bass, tamboura, percussion, loops and additional drum programming on "Room in my Heart"
Goffrey Moore—electric guitars, rhythm guitar
Ryan Freeland—Rhodes, clavinet, drum programming, additional engineering on several tracks, loops, additional programming on "New Dress"
Derek Frank, John Pierce—bass
Val McCallum—rhythm, electric guitar
Joe Sample—wurlitzer, Rhodes
Bossa Cuca Nova—loops
Davey Farrager—Hofner bass
Dennis White—electric guitar, loops and additional drum programming on "Room in my Heart"
David Boucher—loops and additional drum programming on "Room in my Heart," loops and additional programming on "New Dress"
Joseph Moore—riff, sound, inspiration on "I'll Take it From Here"
Michael Franti—vocals on "Steady Pull"
Neil Finn—vocals on "New Dress"
Kenya Hathaway—mystery vocal on "How Deep Is Your Love?," backing vocals on "Steady Pull"
The Chicklets—background vocals on "Out of Your Mind"
Jonatha Brooke and Bob Clearmountain, Ryan Freeland
I just wanted to write a quick note to say how much I am enjoying Jonatha Brooke's new one. Right from the beginning, it's a much bolder than her other stuff. And it's more experimental in style. Particularly "How Deep Is Your Love?" and "Steady Pull" are funky songs, and remind me a little bit of the styles she experimented with on Plumb, but she's pushed herself much further. Lines from different songs keep running through my head at random times, which is an obvious good sign. I wish I'd gone to see her in-store performance on Valentine's Day. Perhaps I could have asked her how one plays a cat hair remover. (JoAnn Whetsell)
A good, punchy, rocky release from our Jonatha, coming on as if Prince was loose in the studio. While I miss her softer, acoustic side (doesn't she know there's a "Movement" on?) songs like "How Deep is Your Love?" have me bouncing across the room in arythmatic joy. Not sure about that cover, though—it looks like a
Spice Girl solo album. (email@example.com)
Wonderful intelligent pop from someone who is managing to keep getting better even as her audience expands. It's an enjoyable listen all the way through, perfect to blast in the car on a bright summer's day. She's obviously having a good time, too—that really comes through in the overall exuberance of the production. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jonatha Brooke's new cd was produced by Bob Clearmountain. Listening to how layered the sounds are and how much stuff is crammed into each song, I can dig why he's such a sought after producer/engineer. And, I like the album. Especially the first several cuts. (email@example.com)
One of my top ten discs of the year. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2004—Bad Dog Records—B0001754-02
Jonatha Brooke—acoustic guitars, electric guitar, bass, piano, shakers, clavinet, wurly, kitchen timer, casio, auto harp, toy piano, drums, Rhodes, wedding ring guitar, avocado shaker, brushes, organ, arrangements on "Sally," bass pedals, mandolin, vocals
Ryan Freeland—programming, drums, accordion, keys, electric guitar, drum programming editing, editing, crazy panning, arrangements on "Sally," keyboards
Eric Bazilian—programming, p-t editing, electric guitars, wurly, bass, drums, shakers, editing
Goffrey Moore—electric guitar, programming, bass, elbow guitar
Mitchell Froom—piano, wurly chime, wurly, B-3 organ, moog synth
Kevin Harp—additional editing
Dorian Crozier—tambo, drums
Jonatha Brooke, Ryan Freeland, Eric Bazilian, Goffrey Moore
Nice, but not grabbing me so far. 10 Cent Wings was stellar in my opinion, Steady Pull had some killer moments amidst standard Jonatha fare. Circus doesn't have the songwriting or the sound strengths of her previous work. (email@example.com)
Back in the Circus is retro Jonatha fare. It reminds me much more of her work with The Story, albeit updated with beats, than her solo albums. Even the title "Back in the Circus" and some lyrics (notably "I'm back in the circus/ Back in the small town, big top" from the title track and "I wish you well, I wish you might/ I wish you were alone tonight" from "Less Than Love Is Nothing" are lifted directly from songs on Grace In Gravity. This is not a bad thing. though. It's a good album, though it didn't grab me at first. There are two covers, "Eye in the Sky" and a surprisingly effective modern version of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain." The album art/design is also very well done, with detailed fonts that remind you of circus signs, in the way that Suzanne Vega's 99.9o F Degrees was. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Love this lady! Love her!! The covers seemed a bit much at first listening, but this CD has grown on me! (Wade)
This has gotten a lot of flack from thecyber-critics at amazon, especially her decision to include, on her first album in three years, not one but three covers. Thing is, I think they work, and really well. So, she does "Fire and Rain", but she has the voice for it, which on this album I think is stronger than ever. And you've got to admire her for taking on Alan Parson's "Eye in the Sky" and winning, hands down. After the "rawk" leanings of Steady Pull, she pares things back, again, even dabbling in electronica and simple pulses and programmed drum beats. It's daring, and I think she pulls it off. I was disappointed by a lot of artists this year, so I approached this with trepidation, but I was far from disappointed—I love this album. A superb collection of songs, right down to the unpredictable covers. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One of my top indie discs of 2004. (email@example.com)
2006—Bad Dog Records—BDR-CDVD-60606-2
Darren Embry—bass, vocals
Ann Marie Milazzo—background vocals, keys, acoustic guitar, percussion, clarinet
Jonatha Brooke and Patrick Rains
The track list didn't excite me that much, but as a longtime fan, I figured Jonatha's new live album was still a worthwhile buy. Decidedly so. It exceeded my expectations, blowing me away on first listen. The songs aren't particularly different from their album versions (though "Inconsolable" gets an extended guitar solo at the end), but they have the vibrancy of live performance. The album is well edited, and the DVD is well filmed. It has the same songs as the CD, but more banter, including the stories behind "Love Is More Thicker Than Forget," "So Much Mine" and "Deny" (which will be a new song for most people since it was only released on a special Borders edition of Steady Pull). What I like most about it is that the way the concert footage is mixed with black & white backstage and sound check footage. "No Net Below" is the best example of this, aptly interspersing Jonatha at the keyboard with Jonatha swinging on a trapeze. (JoAnn Whetsell)
2007—Bad Dog Records—BDR-EU-60906-2
Jonatha Brooke—vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, Wurlitzer, keyboards, mellotron, percussion, electric guitar, mandolin, baritone electric, arranging, background vocals
Goffrey Moore—electric guitars, electric 6- and 12-string guitars
Bob Clearmountain—electric guitar, tambourine, bass
Brandon Duncan—programming, bassoon
Mitchell Froom—Hammond B3, B3 stylings, autoharp in hell
David Boucher—bass clarinet, clarinet
Eric Bazilian—electric guitars, bass, keyboards, programming (1); vocals (4, 10)
Ted Greenberg—drums (1)
JC Chasez—backing vocals (1)
Don Rodenbach—wacky wind-up sample (1)
Gil Goldstein—arrangement, conducting (10)
Bob Sheppard—clarinet (10)
Jeff Driskal—bass clarinet (10)
Nick Lane—euphonium (10)
Brad Warnaar—French horn (10)
Harvey Salzman—bassoon (10)
Jonatha Brooke and Bob Clearmountain (tracks 1-4 co-produced by Eric Bazilian)
I officially love it. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jonatha's most rocking album to date. I like this one more with each listen. Favorite song: "Prodigal Daughter." (JoAnn Whetsell)
A bit of an iffy one, here: a disappointment after Back in the Circus, being a bit shiny and glossy, but this is still an album I keep coming back to. I'm slowly coming around to this, but it's a weird beast. First impressions were of Jonatha trying just that little bit too hard for a commercial breakthrough, with snappy choruses, lots of guitars and her wonderful voice robbed of its bluesy edge and pitched at a very youthful-sounding level. Jonatha's always written great tunes, of course, but here the emphasis seems to be very much on "FM appeal". Still, it has a great, brash, poppish feel to it, even if it doesn't have the introspective quality of her previous work or even the adventurous feel of her last one. It's good fun, and I like it, even love it in parts. (email@example.com)
2008—Bad Dog Records—BDR 60808
Jonatha Brooke—acoustic and baritone acoustic guitars, piano on "King of My Love," electric on "My Sweet and Bitter Bowl," vocals
Christian McBride—upright bass
Joe Sample—piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, B-3
Mitchell Froom—B-3 on "More True Lovers Than One"
Greg Leisz—pedal steel on "My Battle," lap steel on "You'd Ought to Be Satisfied Now"
Hiram Bullock—electric on "Taste of Danger" and "Madonna on the Curb"
Eric Bazilian—vocals and electric on "More True Lovers Than One"
Derek Trucks—slide on "New Star"
Glen Phillips—vocals on "Sweetest Angel"
Gil Goldstein—accordion on "My Sweet and Bitter Bowl," "Taste of Danger," "Coney Island Intro," and "King of My Love"
Keb' Mo'—vocals and dobro on "All You Gotta Do Is Touch Me"
Bob Clearmountain and Jonatha Brooke
A bit of a different sound for Jonatha, very rooted in organic American styles like folk, blues, and gospel. Shades of these. I'm not familiar with Woody Guthrie's work, so I can't comment on that aspect, but I can definitely recommend it as an album. (JoAnn Whetsell)
An honorable mention for the best of the year. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jonatha contributes a cover of Laura Nyro's "He's a Runner" to the Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro tribute album, "The Holly and the Ivy" (with Jim Infantino) to Snow Angels: A Hear Music Holiday Compilation, and the songs "Second Star to the Right" (cover) and "I'll Try" (new original) to the Return to Never Land soundtrack. Studio and live versions of her songs appear on several other compilations.
Thanks to Kay S. Cleaves and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.