You may be reading this review in curiosity of who Jordan Taylor is. Perhaps you already know who he is. Maybe you are him? Are you not reading this review at all but rather having it read to you as a bedtime story? Maybe you didn’t want to read this page at all but came across it by accident while searching the internet for “What are bitcoins?” In any case scenario, I am going to tell you who he is anyway whether you like it or not (please like it).
A quick google search of Jordan Taylor will reveal results of a basketball player, an NFL athlete, a beachwear company, and a Youtube personality from a show called “Blimey Cow”. You probably have caught on by now, but this review is about the latter’s debut album release. Jordan has created content for Blimey Cow along with his brother Josh Taylor and his sister-in-law Kelli Taylor for the last several years. Among their viral videos, Jordan has demonstrated his guitar skills through the self-aware parody “How to Write a Worship Song (In 5 Minutes or Less)”. Fortunately, Jordan Taylor’s debut album Long Drive does not follow that tutorial.
The album begins with an acoustic guitar, some light drumming, and a friendly harmonica on “Waiting” (I don’t know if the harmonica is actually friendly. I am just basing this off of its work but I suppose that isn’t fair). From the very start, several influences and comparisons can be drawn. Most notably, Jordan’s soft voice and singer-songwriter style seems related to Elliot Smith, Owl City, Sky Sailing, Bright Eyes, and Relient K.
The album sticks mostly to this style with a few exceptions (clean electric guitar usage from “Listen”, female vocals on “Separation”, piano pairings in “Need Each Other”, and the friendly harmonica on “Waiting”). For the most part, this method works to Jordan’s benefit. Acoustic guitar is his foundational instrument for most of Long Drive and for good reason. There is even an instrumental track towards the end of the album (“Reflection”) that showcases his guitar skills without becoming too flashy. I’d like to think of it as the guitar parts that the worship band plays as a pastor segues from his sermon into a time of prayer. Take that as you want, but I mean it as a compliment. My review copy also included a bonus track “Beginning” that is another instrumental track.
Lyrically, this album does not serve anything overtly-spiritual or poetic, yet, does not rely on terrible mainstream clichés. Again, it’s somewhere in-between much like the artists mentioned earlier. Some of the strongest songwriting is found on “Separation”, “Need Each Other” and “Listen”. On the latter track, Jordan compares his relationship with a girl to that of being actors on a stage (much like Shakespeare’s famous quote). The opening lines of that song are also comparable to Matthew Theissen’s wordplay in his songwriting.
“Listen, don’t listen to me, because, honestly, honesty isn’t my forte these days, we both fight on different sides but maybe we are still the same scared kid inside I’m just an actor, you’re just an actress, we are the stage. It doesn’t matter, because the fact is, we are probably too late.”
Overall: Though Jordan Taylor is a wizard at acoustic guitars and a fairly good songwriter, his vocals are not the most pleasing sound to listen to. I think it can be worked with on simple songs such as “Need Each Other” but not the more aggressive track “Feet of Shadows”. His voice does not seem to carry too much range which gets a little awkward when the limit starts to get pushed. However, do not let that be the tipping point of whether or not you should listen to this album. Give it a shot and see if you like it yourself. After many listens to Long Drive, it is definitely one that grows on me. It may not be one of the best albums of the year, but it is a solid debut for a new songwriter on the scene. It will be interesting to see what Jordan Taylor creates next. After all, Relient K’s self-titled debut was not their best piece of work…
RIYL: Sky Sailing, Owl City, Relient K, Bright Eyes, Elliot Smith