Album Review: Noa Jordan – The Lost Boys
Noa Jordan and I grew up in the same river valley, influenced by many of the same folks and even run in similar circles. If that makes you feel like this is a biased review – well, all I can say is that you don’t know people from Western Pennsylvania. In our part of steel country, we call it like we see it. In this case, I call it like I hear it – and this, my friends, is an authentic album full of gripping melodies and gritty lyrics. Give it a chance and you’ll see this positive review is no nepotism.
If you aren’t already convinced that Noa Jordan is a legitimate talent by the 2:20 mark of her opening track, surely the sultry guitars will draw you in. Playing on the power ballad style of many heroine songsters before her, Jordan belts out window-rattling lead lines that are engaging and inspiring. “Thieves” seems like the kind of song written out of a deep personal moment, “come find me,” the repeated refrain sounds desperate in all the right ways.
“Momentum” is an almost worshipful track, providing a melody that pulls the listener into the lyrics. Each line is carefully enunciated with an almost theater-esque style. It reminds me of an former star in the CCM world, Nicole Nordeman. In fact, Jordan’s style often reminds me of more mature songwriters. Her messages and her lines have a sophistication far above her peers.
“Straight on Til Morning” has those lovely glowing guitars that always make me think “indie rock,” but then the song transitions to some rhythm guitars with layered vocals. There’s a real sense of a cascading melody in the track that crescendoes toward a deeply satisfying climactic point. The dynamics on this track again show a sophistication not always present on these types of ballad-heavy albums.
I am a huge fan of the guitar work on “End of Things.” There’s a part of me that sort of wishes the whole album had this kind of solo guitar work. It reminds me of everything I loved about Jennifer Knapp back in the early 2000s. (On a related note, I’d love to know more about Jordan’s influences; I’d venture to guess they’re varied.) “End of Things” even a nice measure of existential uncertainty, which plays well in this type of music. The sometimes-brooding, prayerful sensibility is absolutely perfect and undoubtedly the best track on the album.
“Heart’s Resolve” has a bit more of a country vibe to it and it’s extremely welcoming. Jordan again alters her voice for another style, echoing more of a Bonnie Raitt style. It’s really a wonderful change, even allowing the folk highlights of the track to shine through. When the rock elements kick in later in the track, it does seem to move away from its strength a bit. But it’s okay, because the opener was so well done.
I think the whole album builds to “Runaway,” a song that tells the best story on the album. Maybe it’s confessional and maybe it’s fiction, but it has an almost Johnny Cash-like rapid beat to it. The chord changes are uncanny, creating an absolute sense of adventure. Unsurprisingly, then, the following track “Survival” is gritty and driving. It pulses heavily, causing the listener to bear down and concentrate to discover the message. In the coming-of-age tale that is The Lost Boys album, this track is the one that reveals a blossoming of strength and independence.
The final track “Arrival” is reminiscent of the up and comer Julien Baker. The electric guitar serves to sooth the soul, while the vocal is crisply delivered. It all comes together, along with some eloquent harmonies, for yet another sophisticated rock sound. There are elements of the track that almost feel like a rock opera to me; deep and moving it’s choral quality, but with transcendent electric guitars that punctuate the aggression of the piece.
This is a solid album from start to finish. It’s hard to pinpoint a genre or an audience on this, but I think a lot of the readers of ETTG will find much to enjoy on this album. Jordan reflects a gritty attitude and incessant hard work, which bleeds through on track after track. There are no “half” attempts on this album. Stylistically there’s more rock than not, but the simplicity of “End of Things” wins the day for me. Jordan is a songwriter to watch and this is an admirable debut salvo.