The best moments of L.A. singer/songwriter Carl Jordan (aka the Western States Motel)’s self-titled debut present songs oriented around wandering melodies, shuffling guitars, and a slow yet steady sense of motion. By utilizing these elements and positioning restrained, slacker-like vocals against vibrant arrangements, Jordan gives listeners an idea of the sound that might approximate the outcome should Beck and David Bazan, two songwriters who represent the opposite schools of thought Jordan seeks to marry, ever meet up to score an independent road trip film about young, idealistic people looking to find themselves amid lazy desert scenes. Early cuts like “The New E Blues” and “Powerlines” possess a special buoyant quality, while subsequent track “Southwest Planes” amends the album’s modus operandi enough to accommodate different textures, especially in its opening guitar figure. While Jordan laudably establishes a sound that is consistent from song to song, a willingness to experiment more often in this way might serve his work well. The sameness (in dynamic, tempo, and emotion) that permeates the majority of the eleven tracks eventually serves to weigh the album down. Since Jordan’s ability to create sonic landscapes that evoke physical landscapes is a gift which grants him distinction among other up and coming songwriters, emphasizing the nuances in both will only serve to enhance the expression of his craft.
// Notes from the Road
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