Country Jukebox Jury EP: Jade Helliwell – Woman

This is a very important EP. Jade is the lass from Batley who quit her job as a teaching assistant to go full-time as a singer/songwriter. She is a regular performer at Buckle and Boots and finally got to tour as part of a double bill with Kezia Gill at the end of 2021. Kez is preparing an album and a headline tour of her own, while Jade is going out to promote this EP – her first in four years!! – in October. There are six dates including a homecoming show/engagement party in Batley on Saturday 15th.

It’s a great time to be involved in the UK country scene, which even has its own chart thanks to some berk who spotted a gap in the market (a Bubbling Under Top 40 is out now too). Jade is perched near the top of the UK Country Top 40 because of her status just under the A-List quartet of Ward Thomas, Twinnie, The Shires and The Wandering Hearts. Elles Bailey and Gary Quinn are also regulars in the Top 20, which Yola dominates every quarter.

Jade, however, is close to A-List status herself. Not just because her fiancé is the son of the chair of the British Country Music Association, which helps raise her profile within the fanbase of the genre. It’s because she’s really good at what she does, one of the best performers on the circuit who dresses to impress and has the voice to match. She has a packed set including singles like Stormchaser, Put It On You, Boom Tick and Telephone, and the EP includes five songs which she has been previewing in recent shows.

Woman I Am, written with Laura Oakes, has an itchy chorus and fine production to match the lyric which is 100% yaaas queen. Nothing But The Radio is another of those sex jams where the vocalist hopes to get hot and heavy. How fun must it be for Luke Thomas to play those riffs next to the woman he loves!

Lead Me On also fits nicely next to anything coming out of Nashville, a woman scorned who has had enough of being messed around with. Drink This Wine is a piano ballad which highlights Jade’s vocal talent – she has reined in the vibrato that made her name – although there are too many uses of the word ‘just’ as filler in the lyric.

Undercover opens with the line ‘you’ve got a special set of skills’ which sets the scene for a song which crams in a ton of words in the bridge before opening up to a hugely melodic chorus that also twists the title in a neat way. This proves that Jade can not only produce fine pop songs with a country feel but, should any visiting American act need some local support (as Priscilla Block and Tenille Arts recently discovered), then Jade would be the first pick.

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