Jobi Riccio is restless on her alt-country debut LP. As she navigates the rocky terrain of young adulthood, the Morrison, Colorado-born, Nashville-based artist has felt like a mountain and a mouse. She’s damn lonely under the summer sun. She’s learning to be kinder to herself. The urge to go somewhere makes her brain buzz. It’s a vertiginous time in one’s life and it feels very apt that Riccio should name her record Whiplash.
Whiplash came together in pieces. Riccio recorded some of her vocals and acoustic guitar at Citizen Studios in Asheville with Gar Ragland. As the pandemic raged on, she sent these recordings to collaborators who remotely contributed strings, keys, sax, percussion, and more. Eventually, Riccio and Ragland reunited in the studio, joined this time by co-producers Jesse Timm and Isaiah Beard, and finished up the album. Between this disjointed recording process and the emotional chaos at the lyrical heart of this record, on paper, nothing about Whiplash sounds like it’s an easy record to listen to. And yet, with Riccio behind the wheel, Whiplash is a joy to hear.
Riccio channels her anxieties and loneliness into buoyant and easygoing melodies. The instrumental layers from Whiplash’s contributing musicians come together like a warm breeze; it’s as if Riccio opens up a window on the opening track “Summer” and a gentle wind drifts through the rest of the record. The lively beat and cheeky-sounding guitar riffs of “Relief” might encourage you to quit your job and hit the road, while the pedal steel heard on the title track makes you feel like you are floating through the air.
What makes Whiplash really shine, though, is Riccio’s honesty. Her feelings are messy, yes, but she never shies away from them. On “Sweet,” she lists her flaws (but loves herself anyway), and on “Lonely Tonight” she confronts a truth that we all try to run from, singing, “I’m feeling lonely tonight.” The slow burning, incredibly candid album highlight “For Me It’s You” is a tender tune that magnifies how heart wrenching it is to have an unrequited crush. When Riccio sings, she hands you her whole heart.
Jobi Riccio’s Whiplash is out Sept. 8 on Yep Roc Records.