Some of the best music in America is being recorded independently by players who, for one reason or another, haven't adequately caught the attention of a record label. Of course, a cursory listen to much of that music often demonstrates why the record labels aren't biting.
Oscar Jordan falls into the much smaller camp of talent deserving much wider recognition. Stylistically adventurous and lyrically often brutally honest Oscar Jordan does not play it safe. He writes about real life in the trenches. Blues from the hard side. When he sings, "Did time in Cook County, five years of my life/killed a man in prison, stabbed him with a knife/it's the truth about me, I'm just as bad as bad can be" (It's the Truth), it's easy to be believe him. Violent scenarios share space with soured and fantasized relationships on this 10-tune powerhouse from 2001. On the deep blues of "You Better Run" Jordan unleashes superior licks to bolster the fiercely threatening lyric. "Thinking Out Loud" utilizes a loping Texas groove enhanced by Dave Goldstein's wonderful tinkling piano, on which Jordan thinks out loud about desperate life plays. "Hey Now Baby," enhanced by the call-and-response of a punchy horn section, is a romp that shows off Jordan's lighter side. He works a late nite jazzy groove on "The One That Got Away" and the title cut is a funky slice of life piece. When he sings, "Lost my money in Vegas/lost my children to the state," it's apparent that Mr. Jordan is working on a different page than the average-bear lyricist.
"No Time for Sweet Talk" sees the hard-hearted protagonist giving advice on affairs of the heart to the "one [he's] dreaming of" and "Better Off" benefits from exceptional Clapton-ish guitar work. The closing "Christmas Day" is about Christmas in the 'hood. Played on acoustic, Jordan sings "The police put mom in jail on a cold-ass Christmas Day/2 cents between us and nothing to say/I'm 10 years old with a habit and the sky is gun-metal grey/it's cold as hell outside on Christmas Day."
Shades of Texas and Chicago are sketched across Jordan's musical palette. His guitar work is solid and his vocals expressive. Lyrically, he's wholly about the blues, with nary a cliché in sight. Bassist Frank Scarpelli and drummer Chris Cooke offer first-rate accompaniment, and the numerous other players' support is equally well placed. Jordan is one of those delights that comes down the road infrequently. Check his website (www.mp3.com/oscarjordan) for ordering information.
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