Welcome to Spring ! It is a great time of the year ! More important than just marshmallow chicks or chocolate bunnies (white or dark chocolate for me, please), it's a time of rebirth ! A time to wake up to nice weather, flowers and other things Rising Up out of the ground, and original music in the air. I love the sounds, sights, and smell of new original music. Anything beats the sounds, sights, and smell of me, first thing in the morning. I guess now is a good time to save all of us and our senses with a review of the next original artist in our mail bag full of original music.
Jordan Okrend, from Raleigh North Carolina, is a perfect fit for this time of year with his EP titled RISING UP. It has a smooth contemporary flavor. The style is a bit less of a worldly sound, which is usually done best by Dave Mathews Band, but it has more of a bit of light Pop contemporary flare. Closer to The Wallflowers a touch of Pete Yorn and at times, a very small smidge of The Allman Brothers. This is not elevator music. This is outside background music during the year's first Bar-B-Que or happy hour on a warm spring early eve with the tip of the sun just barely falling beneath the skyline after a long hard day/week/month or lifetime of work.
Here are a few tunes that I enjoyed off of this EP:
"BOTTLED UP" - ( VIDEO HERE ) Musically a light hearted up beat display of feelings. I wondered what were the intentions of the lyrics: "She's all bottled up and the world keeps spinning around... she's all bottled up." Are we listing to a story about a drunk lady or a woman who suppresses her feelings? There is no wrong answer. In fact, she maybe both a lush and someone who keeps everything on the inside. When a song, like this one, can have different meanings lyrically to different people's interpretation, good art is found.
"ANYHOW" - A moody hypnotic direction of music. Full of emotion. The lyrics do counter the emotion of the tune: "we can change the world... you & me forever... IF we realise who we are... anyhow." A bit of hopeful lyrics with a music bed that has a tone of despair. There is always hope toward the end. The strings are laid down like a nice soft kiss to the song. The strings and guitar take turns to advance the mood. I like the contrast with the lyrics. Nice guitar solo played so clean that it seems easy to do (and it is not). This may be my favorite song on the EP.
"LIMITATIONS" - Starts out toward an Allman Brothers direction, minus the slight country "twang" then takes off into a very good swinging groove with a wedge of lite funky guitar riffs spun together to create a hipster vibe worthy of national air play. Up beat and soft but crisp tones fluttering from the speakers like butterflies on a sunny spring day. AHAHAHAH !! This may be my favorite-favorite song on this EP.
Over all, The music performance is good. Various musicians appeared with Jordan Okrend and they all seem to do a fine job of adding to the music without over shining it's creator musicianship, or his mold of music writing style. All musicians seem to play it clean, which can be easier said than to be done. This is a key to success for this art form of music. The slight jazz element in contemporary music must flow together and it does. Like the winter snows, slowly melting, it's water calmly trickling down the mountain and into the stream.
The EP production quality has a high glossy polish and is well mixed. Each instrument can be distinctly picked out. Smooth, clean, and not tainted with chips of dry imperfections. The melodies are relaxingly soft spoken for the ears. It is a massage of your mind. Great for background music during a wedding reception or family Bar-B-Que or a hard day's work. After any stressful time in your life, Jordan Okrend's EP Rising Up will help you wined down with a glass of wine.
Some of the lyrics I thought were not as advanced in creativity as they could be. Other times they were done well. I am confident his future writing will catch up with his guitar playing.
His guitar playing has a feeling all its own that works well for his style of presentation. I do like Jordan Okrend's hang back with a grove style of clear on point musicianship and his music will be around for some time. Far longer than any White or Chocolate Bunnies in my house.