Lauren Jordan is a talented Telecaster-toting, tea-drinking musician who started out in the Atlanta church scene. According to the bio on her site (laurenjordanrocks.com), she raised attendance to quadruple digits while rocking her way through the service. For her latest album, 1000 Miles an Hour (released last November), Lauren has enlisted the assistance of Bobby Z, James Dunn, and Alex Stephens, in an expression of awe and wonder at the machinations of her life’s journey.
The album begins with “Non-Rock Star Vibe,” a track buttressed by rhythm guitar and vocals that would be as comfortable in Nashville as in Boston. The vocals run the gamut, from the irony conveyed in the voice of The Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer in the verses and chorus, to a more flowing bridge that shows off Lauren’s vocal agility and strength. The next track, “Stand,” treats the listener to the rough voice of Bobby Z. He has a kind of Tom Petty thing going on (the “You Don’t Know How It Feels” Tom Petty, not so much the “Free Falling” Tom Petty). The vocals are tastefully bolstered by an electric guitar solo that melts like fondue at just the right temperature.
To say the vocals of “Shadow of a Stranger” are haunting would be an understatement. The track calls to mind the 90s grunge-meets-girl-power of Courtney Love and Veruca Salt, but somehow, with more propriety. The song sings of self-confidence tinged with desperate dependence on another: “I won’t be the nameless face of the city / ‘Cause I’m in his fantasies / And he says he’s coming back for me.” I wonder how the waiting Lauren spends her time. If it’s with her guitar, all is not lost. “Drifting Along” begins with a disillusioned guitar and weary-but-not-defeated voice. Lauren’s lyrical prowess blasts through the album as her voice twists and turns like an Olympic diver in the air, delivering lines full of meaning and feeling. Then the guitar solo, the sort that could make a fervent atheist want to attend a church service, hits, swinging madly through the drums like a kid trying to go over the top of the swing set.
After the disenchantment of “Drifting Along,” “Uncatchable Car” puts the same feelings into another perspective. Perhaps ending up somewhere one hadn’t intended can be a beautiful adventure. Perhaps all you can do is keep going and enjoy the scenery. Breezy guitar chords lull James Dunn’s bongos onward and onward, as Jordan sings of moving ahead at a surprising and incomprehensible, albeit exhilarating pace. Like a vacation gone in the blink of an eye, the song ended and the next began. This chord progression sounds familiar, I thought. Yes, it is that “Umbrella,” the one Rhianna bopped though and the music distributors bopped us all over the heads with until we were hearing it in our sleep. Lauren brings black eyeliner and leather (in the rock sense, not the Bajan sex kitten sense) to the song in a refreshing walk in the rain. Alex Stephens took my breath away and gave me finger cramps with his remarkable guitar solo to end the song – and the album – on a positive note.
1000 Miles an Hour is an album that speaks to the expectations and unexpected consequences of our endeavors. It positions Lauren Jordan as a talented musician who has the intelligence and fortitude to take it all in stride. That is, she has the enviable aptitude for enjoying life, wherever it may take her.
Lauren Jordan Interview
For anyone that has never seen you live, what should they expect?
Pyrotechnics, smoke machines, aerial artists, and a live tiger…just kidding! Smoke machines make me sneeze. [laughter] In all seriousness, I think what people should most expect in my live shows is variety. Regardless of whether I’m performing solo or with my band, LJ3, I try to keep people guessing with tempos and styles and the occasional wacky lyric. I’ve been to some really great concerts, but so often I wanted to say, “I appreciate your energy, dude, but I’m not a kid hyped up on candy! Bring it down a notch once in a while so we can enjoy the lyrics and vocals. We’re not all gonna leave, I promise!”
What’s your favorite place to sip tea?
I love my tea here and there,
I love my tea anywhere.
Yes, I’ll drink in a house,
Yes, I’ll drink it with a mouse.
I love my tea, it’s plain to see…
Let’s all have a spot of tea!
What was the first album that you added to your personal music library?
Well, since both my parents are avid music fans, I grew up with a HUGE collection of music in the house, so I’m pretty sure the first album added to my personal library was via theft! But the first album I remember asking for was probably the soundtrack to “My Fair Lady.” I can still do a delightful rendition of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” Cockney accent and all!
What was your most recent addition to your personal music library?
Halestorm’s Into the Wild Life. I absolutely LOVE this album because it has it all! It’s virtually gapless but still manages to create individually enjoyable songs while also being an edgy rock album built upon solid songwriting. As a songwriter and someone who has studied audio production and engineering, this makes my head explode. When I’m 95, I’ll no doubt be sipping tea and still headbanging to this album!
What was your first live music experience?
Phil Collins at Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood: My parents had tickets to go see him with friends, but the friends bailed at the last minute, so my mom asked if I wanted to go. I thought it was going to be lame because I always thought of Phil Collins as being easy listening music for grown-ups…but I was wrong. He put on an amazing rock show and mesmerized the audience with KILLER drum solos! I learned very early on that a live performance can change your entire perspective of an artist.
If you could cover one album in your music library which would it be?
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, hands down. It’s one of the most successful albums of all time for a reason. Every song is perfectly hand-crafted, both vocally and instrumentally, and with the variety of song styles, you walk away with all of your musical needs having been met. (It’s the “Goldilocks & The 3 Bears” of albums…it’s just right!) Plus, I’m a glutton for harmonies. The most exciting part of the recording process for me are the backing vocals. I think it’s what adds the magic!
What artist do you wish more people had in their music library?
Besides me? [laughs] I wish more people had Poe in their music libraries. She’s a brilliant songstress who ranges from alternative rock to jazz-fusion to new age and her two albums are some of my favorites with their powerful lyrics and her sultry voice. If more people knew of her, I’m sure she’d still be putting out albums and I could go to her concert, so my reasoning is entirely selfish! Pandora is both a blessing and a curse because I discover artists from all genres and time periods, sparking tremendous creativity, but sometimes these artists are past touring and recording.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
I do! I’m currently in the studio at Dirt Romeo Studios working on some edgier rock tunes. Originally, it was supposed to be a single, but it turned out so well that it became 4 songs. (By the time we’re done, it may turn into world domination!) I also recently joined a wonderful group of artists called the Women of Rock from Jawbreaker Entertainment. They showcase female soloists and female-fronted bands that are taking rock by storm. I’m very excited to perform alongside these rockin’ chickadees, so be on the lookout for upcoming shows!