This Doves has flown

With a new album, Odludek, and a full UK tour, Jimi Goodwin has a lot on his plate. Andy Welch catches up with the musician to find out about going it alone, plus his band Doves and their indefinite hiatus

Sunday, 27th April 2014, 7:00 pm
Jimi Goodwin
Jimi Goodwin

Odludek is a Polish word, meaning loner, pilgrim, traveller or hermit.

Given Jimi Goodwin’s career path so far, always being part of a band, it’s the perfect name for the album that sees him finally going it alone.

“I’m doing this on my own, without my safety net of collaborators, Jez and Andy,” he says.

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“This album was all down to me, my gut and my hunches. I’ve made a record that I wanted to hear, but I wanted some craziness on there.”

Jez and Andy are the Williams brothers, schoolmates-turned-bandmates of Goodwin’s, first during their time as Manchester’s premier post-acid house chart botherers Sub Sub – you’ll know their 1993 hit Ain’t No Love, Ain’t No Use – and later in Doves.

The future of the latter band is still not clear.

The official line is they haven’t, and won’t, split up (“What’s the point of announcing you’ve broken up only to have to announce that you’ve got back together?”) but there are no plans to reconvene.

The Williams brothers are also currently working on an album together.

Based on things Goodwin says, it sounds as if the making of Doves’ fourth album Kingdom Of Rust was so draining, with the trio working on it every day for three years, they each decided it was time to try something else.

“It’s hard getting new shapes out of people you’ve known for so long and so well,” he says.

“You have to feel like you’re going to new places – not completely new, because in 21st century music that’s impossible – but new places as a band.

“You have to transcend your influences.

“And them getting new things out of me, and me getting new things out of them took time.

“But Jez and Andy are my brothers, and Kingdom Of Rust was a fitting record to make before pressing the pause button on Doves for a bit.

“There’s every chance there’ll be another Doves record, I just don’t know when.”

Odludek, then, as you might expect from Doves’ principal songwriter and singer, isn’t a million miles away from the band’s past work. Didsbury Girl, for example, would’ve been right at home on their third album Some Cities.

Once Goodwin explains the song, however, that makes complete sense.

“Didsbury Girl is the oldest track on the record, I first demoed that for Doves in 2004,” he says.

“It didn’t make the cut and I forgot about it, but when I started making Odludek I went back to it and it’s still good, it still moves me.”

He says he follows Leonard Cohen’s oft-repeated line about how a song can take years and years to fully reveal itself to its author, and that a songwriter must be patient and wait for that to happen naturally.

“If Leonard Cohen says that, it’s good enough for me,” says the 43-year-old.

“And it feels even better to finally get a song away after such a long time.”

Lyrically, like much of Odludek, the song’s laden with sage advice.

In this particular case, it was inspired by Goodwin’s teenage daughter.

“I had this image of someone growing up, a teenager realising that young adulthood isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

“There are some big shocks when you have to fend for yourself and live in a so-called grown-up way.

“I see my daughter now having her ups and downs, and it reminds me how tough it can be.”

While songs such as Didsbury Girl, Keep My Soul In Song and Ghost Of The Empties – his ode to the abandoned buildings in the Ancoats area of Manchester – are reminiscent of Doves, there’s enough on the album to show Goodwin has broken new ground.

Oh! Whiskey, for example, is as playful as he’s ever sounded, beginning with a campfire-style singalong before three minutes in striding off into an almost balletic, piano-led second half.

Again, it was written a couple of years ago and deemed unsuitable for Doves, so it went on the back-burner.

“It’s autobiographical, that one,” he says of the song, a warning to himself about the dangers of drinking.

“I have to mind my manners with it, or I did do for a while.

“Let’s just say that. I had to stop and take stock.

“It’s always hard, and I think I got too comfortable in my use of alcohol,” he continues.

“It seems all right when you’re on tour, but for a while I brought that back into my normal life.

“It’s a precautionary song, about mood-altering substances in general; how you don’t have to have drink to be creative.

“The thing that you think is your crutch is actually a shackle.

“Like if you’re in the studio and you can’t do a vocal without half a bottle of wine beforehand, something is up.

“This is my art, I should be able to do this sober, with an open heart, because it’s what I dreamed of doing as a kid.”

Goodwin recently supported his friends Elbow on their UK tour, and heads out on the road again in May.

The set will largely be made up of new songs, although there will be a couple of older tunes for the fans still wanting to hear Doves tracks.

For the most part, he’s grateful for people’s attention, and that he’s been given a chance to try something new.

“I had this thing where I could hear people saying, ‘The guy from Doves has made a solo record. I bet I know how that’ll sound’.

“There’s nothing contrived about this album, but if there was one thing I was conscious of, it was being able to say to people, ‘No, you don’t know what this is going to sound like’, without being wilfully eclectic.

“There are curveballs in there.

“Odludek is like my fantasy record, and I’m so proud of it,” Goodwin adds.

“I’m not going to be evasive about that or hide away from the fact.

“I really like this album and I’ve said everything I wanted to.”

Ain’t No Use?

Jamie Francis Alexander Goodwin was born in Manchester on May 28, 1970.

He met brothers Andy and Jez Williams in 1985 and they formed Sub Sub. Their song Ain’t No Love Ain’t No Use was a No 3 hit in 1993. The band folded when their recording studio burned down in 1996.

The trio returned as Doves in 1998. They released four albums and two compilations.

Goodwin used to play bass for Electronic, the duo formed by The Smiths’ Johnny Marr and New Order’s Bernard Sumner.

He recently supported Elbow on their UK arena tour, and Elbow’s Guy Garvey co-wrote and sings backing vocals on Odludek track Hope.

Jimi Goodwin’s album Odludek is out now. He begins a UK tour on May 2, including:

May 3 - Liverpool Sound City

May 4 - Kendal Malt Room, 
Brewery Arts Centre

May 26 - Manchester Gorilla