In “Back to Me,” the latest single off of his stunning LP with E. Jones Be Good, Will Jordan looks to solidify himself as a breakout heavyweight contender in the northwest music underground, and for my money, he does just that and more. Led by a sensitive lead vocal that tonally speaks to the soul of the lyrics, “Back to Me” mixes a little bit of old school swagger with a very new school approach to stylization, and for Will Jordan, I think it could easily be a song that bridges the gap between the college radio-level of fame he’s straddling at the moment and the chart-topping success he’s clearly capable of attaining.
There’s so much pressure on these beats that it’s almost difficult to discern the bassline crunch from the percussive tone in a couple of spots, but I think this was critical to maximizing the tension in the music and creating a bit of anticipation as the vocal melodies get stronger. Jordan’s voice progressively takes ahold of the harmony and the emotions it conjures up, which is definitely preferable to the straightforward style of ascending that I’ve heard in a lot of other alternative R&B out of the west coast this year.
This mix features some of the best instrumental spacing I’ve come across in the past month or so, and I think it was important to construct the track in this fashion to let the vocal be as incendiary with emotionality and energy as it can be in a studio performance. Jordan’s voice does best when it’s given a minimalistic backdrop with slightly liberal melodic trappings in the foreground, and this is an instance in which he’s able to make such components feel equally contributive to the theme of the song as his own singing is (which isn’t the easiest of tasks for a crooner this gifted).
The production style here actually reminds me a bit of the late-2000s/early-2010s Seattle noise scene as it was channeled through avant-gardists and singer/songwriters more interested in brawn than they were the frilly aesthetics of their post-punk-loving predecessors, which immediately highlights the experimental points in the song more than they would be in a different setting. Without even taking into account the Hollywood-feel of the music video, I can tell that there are some diverse influences bubbling over into something entirely fresh and original for Will Jordan, and this treasure off of Be Good is just the beginning.
Those who haven’t already been listening to the music of Will Jordan need to do so this November to find out what the buzz is about for themselves – from where I sit, this is an artist who definitely lives up to the hype. He’s still in the ‘becoming’ stage of his compositional development, but at this moment in his career, I think it’s necessary to recognize the exponential nature of his maturation. “Back to Me” is a milestone, and more than that, it’s a melodic stab at merging the past with the present in a style that sometimes feels like something straight out of the future.
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