CD REVIEW: Jordan Okrend - Rising Up
By Cyrus Rhodes - 03/25/2015 - 01:03 PM EDT
Artist: Jordan Okrend
Album: Rising Up
Label: Independent Artist
Sounds Like: John Maher, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, Counting Crows, Ray Lamontagne Jamiroquai, Jason Mraz, Bruno M
Best Songs: Limitations, Anyhow, Without You, Rugged Girl
Weakness: EP Release, Lack of Liner Notes, Winded Songs.
(NEW YORK) Born in NYC and raised in Raleigh NC, Jordan Okrend is a young singer/songwriter and performer who is ready to make a lasting mark. Having first picked up the guitar at the age of 7, Jordan hasn’t slowed down since with his love for his instrument and for the crafting of memorable melodies. Growing up in a house with diverse musical flavor, Jordan became a sponge in the musical sense. By the time he was finishing high school, Jordan was versed in Rock, Jazz, R&B, Reggae and Bluegrass, had written scores of original songs, played countless gigs in his home state, and was accepted and later attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. This latest CD “Rising Up” Was released in 2o12
The EP kicks things off with the melodic ditty “Don’t Know” a passionate acoustic guitar driven intro groove with methodical musical build, hooky chorus and emotionally charged vocal delivery and well placed fiddles. Track 2 “Bottled Up” serves up another hooky groove, with melodic musical flow coupled with driving rock rhythm against a flowing American guitar ambience. Track 3 “Rugged Girl” shifts gears with its methodical musical build, bluesy guitar, Organ lending itself into an infectious melody with thought provoking lyrical and impassioned vocal persona that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of Tom Petty, The Avett Brothers, John Maher, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, and Counting Crows. Right from the start you will notice Okrend feels quite comfortable just letting it all hang out musically, not holding anything back. The overall musical vibe has a nice Americana feel to it, but is also Funky-Jazzy and easy to groove to. Music is at times genuine, gripping, melodic, poppy and hooky with pockets of hope shining through. The American fretwork is world class across the board as Okrend and company dish out impressive chops. Also present are rock solid Organ, sporadic Percussive accents, well placed vocal harmonies, slamming R&B style guitar, all built upon an smooth as silk rhythm section. Kudos goes out to the amazing drumming. The drummer (whoever he is) pushes the natural accents brilliantly and is an amazing and fluid timekeeper. Okrend’s got solid vocal timber and is full of passion and recklessness abandon. He’s got good vocal instincts within each movement he displays an impressive falsetto and inviting timber throughout. His vocal style reminds me of a cross between Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) and Jason Mraz. Okrend is a gifted songwriter, storyteller and vocalist. The songwriting is brilliant and provides a lot of musical variety and emotion. His vocal emotions really seal the deal for me as he makes a strong emotional connection with the listener. He really handles all the pin drop moments extremely well - this is a critical component of Singer/Songwriter often taken for granted, The musicianship from all the other members in the band has everything you would expect from a gold standard Americana-Folk band. All engineering aspects check out. EP possess thick low end frequency and crystal clear high end clarity. The songs themselves are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair and signature groove. From grooving “Limitations” to heartfelt and impassioned “Without You” this 6 track EP has something for just about everyone. The EP ends with Track 6 “Anyhow” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
I typically deduct 1` star for EP releases. The full length CD release is the most complete snapshot to judge an artist by at any given point in time. There are no liner notes indicating who the amazing session players we on the EP. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
In close “Rising Up” by Jordan Okrend delivers an impressive, passionate,impassioned, short and sweet, hooky 6 song release that upholds gifted songwriting with the highest standards in good Americana Pop. If he has an impressive live presentation then that would be a deadly combination no doubt. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate and highly entertaining – and clearly prove Okrend is on to something special going down this path. At the end of the day Jordan Okrend is a world-class singer/songwriter possessing an infectious pop personality clearly worthy of worldwide recognition. One would be wise to keep a watchful on him over the years to come.
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