Jordan O’Jordan is a singer songwriter based in Seattle. His latest album, Through Tough Thoughts, has been released by Portland’s Antiquated Future Records. The label say that “the 12 songs on Through Tough Thoughts serve as postcards from the road. Tales of leaving and returning. Small epics about failure and hope-in-the-face-of-adversity.” Indeed the album has a very definite theme of finding answers while travelling, incorporating not just the influence of the people you meet along the way but also those you leave behind.

The first single, ‘A Lonely Road’, sounds like the motto for the whole thing. Its a travelling song, like an aural road trip that tries to escape the tedium and frustrations of “real” life, five minutes infused with hope and belief, where fears and failures can be battled and grace is to be found in a Dolly Parton song on the radio

“Did we honestly think we’d make it home
without some stupid scars?
Or was that our goal?
We would mark up our skin
just to prove it’s ours.”

‘Patience is Gruesome’ is reminiscent of Elephant Micah, with its buzzing harmonium and gently plain spoken vocals, while ‘Miller’s Pond’ is a spring morning of a song, again built on banjo and O’Jordan’s almost folk tale writing, the lyrics flowing like the poetry of some wandering bard. “We walked out of the woods, headed towards Miller’s pond”, he sings, “through my sun-dazzled eyes I thought I spied a swan / but when I looked again I realised it was you / sitting there in the sun, in your new bathing suit.”

The banjo led ‘Polar Thoughts’ is bright and hopeful, infused with a carefree individuality. It also has some really nice lyrics about things we can learn from penguins, an acknowledgement that we all need to huddle together against driving snow once in a while.

“But there are lessons to be learned
about the colder climates.
let the penguins be the teachers
to us stupid primates:
one, keep your eggs upon your feet,
two, keep your backs turned to the south.
three, if your friends won’t eat,
then you might need to feed them with your mouth.”

‘Not Just What You Said’ is more pensive, while ‘O! Benvolio’ is like a hymn, sounding solemn over the wheezing pulse of harmonium. ‘Advice from Andre’ is about the fickle nature of our psyche, and has some much needed advice from the titular Andre, while the final track, ‘Thoughts of the Ocean’, warns of the dangers of living your whole life planning and dreaming. This plays as an attempt to convince the listener that at least some of their mind must appreciate the here and now, lest this whole crazy thing we call life may just rush on by.

“There’s a soft sort of danger,
that starts creeping up,
when you spend too much time,
wondering what you might want.
It eggs you on toward those things,
You think you ought go get.
It values not what you have now,
But what you don’t have… yet.”

You can Through Tough Thoughts now on cassette or digital download via the Antiquated Future Records Bandcamp page and the Jordan O’Jordan Bandcamp page. Or, if you want something a little different, it’s also available as part of a monthly postcard service, which you can check out on their webstore.

photo of cassette tape