Writing songs for only vocals and bass guitar has been one of the most exciting challenges of Jocelyn Alice’s career.
“There’s so much more freedom,” says Alice, one-half of soulful Calgary duo, Jocelyn & Lisa.
“And there are so many more restrictions. Every note has to hit perfectly and every single part of the song has to hit, or it’s painfully obvious.”
Alice approached bassist Lisa Jacobs almost two years ago — after watching her perform with several local funk and soul groups, including Kyemara and the Kirby Sewell Band — and suggested they write a song together.
Jacobs admits she was initially unsure about collaborating on the project, as she’s always worked in larger bands as a freelancer.
But she says she’s thrilled with how well it’s worked out.
“We really challenge and stretch each other as musicians,” says Jacobs.
“Normally, we get together and one of us will have an idea, like a melodic idea and then we’ll feed off each other and build the song together.
“It’s really unique to our experiences.”
Both Alice and Jacobs have made a name for themselves in soul, blues and funk music circles in town — Alice with her strong, sultry and sweet vocals and Jacobs as an in-demand session bassist.
But fans of the two had mixed reactions when it came to them performing as a duo.
“It’s something totally not typical,” says Jacobs.
“So some people got it and for other people it took a couple of listens. Most people really understood the vibe of us and the presence or chemistry. But there were a couple of people who wrote on Jocelyn’s Facebook wall, ‘You’re really great, but you should probably fire your bassist.’”
“Or hire a drummer,” adds Alice with a laugh.
The pair recently released its debut EP, Weary Warrior, and has been gigging regularly, including a show tonight at Wine-Ohs (located in the old BeatNiq space.)
“There’s a discomfort about the amount of silences as a listener,” says Alice of the duo’s music.
“It’s kind of what we’re all about. We want to make people feel comfortable in how open we are, but we also want to question so much musically.”
• Jocelyn Alice was runner-up in the nationally televised singing talent show, Popstars, in 2002.
• Lisa Jacobs still performs with the same bass guitar her father taught her to play when she was a kid.
• Alice & Jacob’s debut three-song EP, Weary Warrior, will be available at the duo’s shows at Wine-Ohs tonight at the Ship & Anchor Pub on Jan. 2.