For anyone who has grown annoyed by the music industry’s habit of selling songs with sex rather than substance, Marti Dodson has an album for you. It’s more like a movement. With One Girl Revolution, Saving Jane’s lead singer is trying to bring us back to a time when songs were based around heartfelt stories that didn’t have be delivered with a wink and a wiggle.
As her bandmates exorcise their inner rock god on the hard-charging, hooky One Girl Revolution—turning the band’s third disc into perhaps their most electrified outing—Dodson urges her fans to be themselves and to reject how females are treated in the music industry and in the media.
If Saving Jane’s previous disc, Girl Next Door (Toucan Cove/Universal), was a bit more sedate, on One Girl Revolution Dodson and company didn’t hesitate to plug in and rev it up. But the rockers are mixed with acoustic-driven, midtempo tracks that are sure to light up the radio. “I think this album is a really good representation of who we are as a band,” says Dodson. “What you hear on the album is what you’re gonna see live.”
The album is very much a reaction to their one-album tenure on a major label, during which she and the group scored a massive hit single while also finding others controlling their image and sound, or at least attempting to. While Dodson is indeed a hottie herself, she was much more interested in singing and writing from the heart than shaking her rump.
She penned One Girl Revolution’s title track after peeping a group of photos taken of her, all of which had been airbrushed: “I was pretty irritated by it, because we have a lot of young fans, and I didn’t want these girls to be looking at these pictures, thinking, ‘I could never look like that,’ because I don’t look like that either. The song started to be about that, and the whole superficiality of the music industry in general, and then it turned into this thing about all these girls selling sex instead of music.
“When I listen to the radio, or when I watch videos, it seems like every song is about sex, and every video focuses on girls without clothes on. It’s like, ‘Don’t we, as females, have more to offer than that?’”
Meanwhile, songs like “What I Didn’t Say” and “Let Me Down Easy” are straight-up relationship songs touching on the different sides of the loss of a lover, or would-be lover. The stark, piano ballad “Grace” is a song about faith, and “Better Day” finds the 28-year-old Dodson picking herself up after a period of loneliness and despair.
“I like what I say on this album,” she says. “I like coming out with a really strong point of view, especially about where the music industry is with females. I think it’s important to get that message out there. There’s not nearly enough appreciation for girls who are smart, who aren’t talking about anything but the booty. There's certainly more to write about when describing the female condition than to always be talking about our sexuality—not that that's a bad thing. But we do have a little more to us than that.”
In some respects, One Girl Revolution finally realizes the goal the gospel-weaned Dodson and co-founder/guitarist Pat Buzzard set when they formed Saving Jane some six years ago. The seed for the band was planted when Dodson surprisingly sat in with Buzzard at a campfire party one night while attending college at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.
The chemistry was immediate: “We just felt connected right away,” says Dodson, born in the tiny Ohio town of Ironton. “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s almost like meeting somebody that you’re going to date, but it was never like that with us. It was like, ‘Wow, I get this person and they get me.’”
Gelling over their mutual admiration for the likes of James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin, the duo began working the OSU bar circuit, and filling out the band with members would who eventually come and go. (The current band is rounded out by drummer Dak Goodman and bassist Jeremy Martin.)
In 2002, the band self-released its 11-song debut, Something to Hold Onto. Three years later came Girl Next Door (Toucan Cove), with which the band build a grassroots following, scoring regional radio exposure, which led to regional tours. In April 2006, Dodson and company signed a deal with Universal for the re-release of Girl Next Door, which has gone on to sell 100,000 copies, propelled by the smash title track.
“Girl Next Door” became a hit on both radio and iTunes, where it was downloaded some 600,000 times. The gold-certified single became the theme for MTV’s Tiara Girls, and was included on the hit compilation Now 22.
It has helped the band register more than 2.5 million profile views on MySpace, where the song has been played more than 7 million times. It also brought Saving Jane and Dodson to the country’s attention: Since 2005, Dodson—a born stage performer who thrives in the spotlight—and Saving Jane have toured nationwide, opening for the likes of Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, All American Rejects and The Fray. They’ve been featured in Billboard and Teen People and performed on Live with Regis and Kelly. Dodson, meanwhile, has become a spokesperson and model for the Wet Seal clothing brand.
With One Girl Revolution, both she and the band are growing into themselves. “I think most artists start out wanting to be on a major label,” Dodson says. “That’s the ultimate goal. It was for us. And then we just found out that it wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be, that it wasn’t right for us. We didn’t get to make the music we wanted to make, and there was a lot of pressure about image. So on One Girl Revolution we just wanted to go back to a place where it was all about music, and making the music we wanted to make. That’s what this album is all about.”