“The brilliantly quirky duo Worry Dolls – a super-shiny beacon of joy in a dreamland far, far away from the persistently ‘regular’ sound of folk that’s flooding the charts right now” • The Huffington Post
Worry Dolls are a young, exciting duo born out of the joint talents of Zoe Nicol and Rosie Jones, who met in Liverpool when they were 18, both on their chosen path of becoming solo singer songwriters, and both falling under the spell of ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’. Rosie joined Zoe’s band as a mandolin player and backing vocalist and their great chemistry and love of harmony led to them starting a contemporary bluegrass band playing Nickel Creek, Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch songs together. Paired by their teachers for an opportunity to have their songwriting critiqued by Paul McCartney, they were inspired to start co-writing, and could now be described as an almost telepathically linked songwriting force.
Rosie grew up singing and playing a variety of instruments in a music-filled household in Devon, picking up guitar after finding an old nylon-string under the stairs. A huge turning point came at 13 after hearing Michelle Branch whilst watching an episode of Buffy, who then became her musical muse. As a teenager, Rosie’s musical diet was a mix of punk bands & angsty singer songwriters, finding country through a friend’s copy of Ryan Adams’ ‘Heartbreaker’. Inspired by the shared DIY ethos of both punk & country, she started playing the harmonica and writing country songs, born from boredom in her Devonshire heavenly country existence. At 17, she wrote a song called Tennessee about wanting to live in Nashville and get her heart broken so that she could write songs like the ones she loved.
Zoe, whose family originate from Liverpool and Ireland, was raised in a small village in Kent by her mum. She inheriting music from her parents who, although separated, were both performers which resulted in a childhood spent back and forth between her mum’s theatrical rehearsals and her dad’s club gigs. Discovering her own voice at 7, she went on to channel her ideas into poems and a’cappella songs, as well as starring as the lead villain in school productions. At 12, she started learning to play her dad’s old Spanish guitar to accompany herself, drawing inspiration from Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell; the songs poured out.
Serendipity brought Zoe and Rosie together at an open mic whilst both studying music in Liverpool. Both redheads with guitars, they discovered that they had, unbeknownst to each other, been to the same hippy camps when they were young and sat around the same campfire. They also discovered that they could fight like crazy over songwriting, but regardless, they had become musical soul mates and so, after uni, they set off together making music as Worry Dolls. It was a new sound, blending the tender urgency of Zoe’s Irish-influenced voice with the fiery integrity of Rosie’s vocals and rhythmic guitar. Zoe transferred her fingerpicking skills to ukulele, followed by Earl Scruggs-style banjo, motivated by players like Emily Robison (Dixie Chicks) and Winston Marshall (Mumford & Sons).
The pair were drawn to London, where they spent the best part of a year sleeping on couches, obsessively co-writing and performing, and all the while developing a burgeoning cult following. Worry Dolls harnessed this period of transition and channelled it into two EPs, with their second release “Burden” evidencing a sound that was beginning to shed its starry-eyed innocence, and give way to a more acerbic and mature artistic voice.
After a summer of grafting on the festival circuit, they made the decision to quit their day jobs & lives in London to fly to Nashville and record their debut album. They had a strong vision for the record even before it was fully written. The most important creative anchor was to stay true to their English roots and to work with people who could elaborate what they already had. It didn’t take long for personal recommendations to pair them with producer Neilson Hubbard, a veteran of East Nashville’s music scene with an ear for successful collaborations & a strong focus on vocals. It was soon obvious that the chemistry was mutual.
Worry Dolls’ debut album Go Get Gone is out now on all outlets via Bread and Butter Music.