By Jackie Lam
I first heard of The Western States Motel, the one-man project of Carl Jordan, late last year as they headlined our residency at LaBrie’s last year. Witnessing Jordan, his lean, tall figure singing in front of a mic that was just a smidge too low for his frame or gently hunched over a toy keyboard during the set, was like watching a man who was confident yet endearingly shy to show off his chops.
His newest project, the LP Freeway, Freeway, Riverbed, released on October 25th, is a collection of songs with titles such as “The Desert Ground,” “Country & Western Song,” and “Ghost Town” encapsulates the lonesome west. The simple melodies of the songs, with a playful synthesizer and touches of country twang without any unnecessary bells and whistles had me hooked from the start. Each of the songs are like self-contained narratives and it feels like peeking inside a miniature dollhouse, the stories quietly unraveling in each room.
“Country and Western Song,” a personal favorite, with its toy-like synth providing the melodic thread drum kit beats pushing and pulling throughout, is a delightful ear worm. “Mid-Century Modern Chair,” the album’s first single, is somewhat a furniture designer’s love song to, well, yes, a chair. Another stand out is "All The Stars," a sweet ballad is more densely textured with TWSM's signature synth and faster tempo than the lackadaisical pace of the majority of the songs on the album.
Freeway Freeway Riverbed is like putting down a mirror on a lonesome desert highway and having it reflect the vast, empty landscapes, the cacti that can look like wounded animals, and the wistful quality of travelers on the hunt for their personal vision of the Great West. It’s a sterling album that took care and talent to make yet has an effortless quality about it.
To celebrate the recent release of Freeway, Freeway, Riverbed, You can catch Western States Motel at The Roxy every Tuesday in November. Carl Jordan will be performing with a full band as part of KROQ’s Locals Only showcase On the Rox.
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