Album Review: Jordan Whitmore – Other Side – Pure vocals highlight female alt country album

Jordan Whitmore‘s got the right kind of twang. She’s a genuine article who sings with conviction in her music. Built on the backs of tough girl country music, Whitmore’s sound is a little more Carrie Underwood than the traditional country we typically cover here, but she’s got a great, infectious flair about her music and her softer ballads really make her sound more than the county fair jams.

The opener “My Own Worst Enemy” is definitely that Underwood stompin’ and yellin’ style. It’s meant to get people out on the dancefloor and engaged. The second track, “The Tongue is a Fire” is more the style of Whitmore’s music that feels unique and special to her. There’s a subtlety of emotion and writing that comforts the listener almost immediately. The near-scriptural nature of the lyrics give it a transcendent and powerful wisdom. The music makes those wise messages go down smooth.

Let’s not be too coy about this – the reason that Jordan Whitmore deserves coverage is purely on the quality of her vocals. The songwriting is nice, too, but she can legitimately sing. Her versatility and chops come through on “2000 Years Ago.” At times she actually sounds a little like Sara Bareilles (which is high praise). But that anthemic at times “pop” sound generates an excellent energy throughout the album.

“Down Down Down” has a real fancy country flair to it. It’s about conflict in the midst of a relationship. “I’m sick of your mess – it brings me down, down, down.” It’s a hard driving, windows down and music up track. It’s sure to make a lot of Jordan Whitmore fans because people can connect with it. Even if a relationship isn’t totally broken, anyone who’s ever had a fight or major disagreement in a relationship will feel this track.

The track that follows is “Free,” another softer tune that highlights Whitmore’s next level vocal qualities. She’s got a balance of clarity and just the softest rasp. When it all comes together with these well-penned lines, she’s a real alt country force. Similarly “In Between” has a lot of power and flavor to it. It’s a bit more upbeat than “Free” but still has the focus on the lead vocal. “I’m not where I started this hill is getting to steep. There’s mountains and valleys and I’m somewhere in between.” This is an imminently relatable track. A lot of music is written about the bad days or the high points in life, so it’s a much needed expression of a common emotion.

The steel guitar on “High Road” is just perfect. If someone asked me for the best track on the album, it’s definitely this one. It has all the elements for a great tune. Whitmore’s lead is on point, the harmonies are sweet, and the steel guitar just feels so country. It should be playing on country music stations all over the nation right now. “When you’re wounded by another’s words it’s hard to see beyond the hurt. You can stay there in the thick of pain or set it free and show them grace.” That’s gospel right there, ya’ll. “I wanna get there as fast as I can.” Amen.

“Little Brother” has a nice comfortable melody about it and a deep, heartfelt emotional plea. It pairs nicely with the final track “Broken Things,” an existential reflection. “We all have broken dreams and we’ve been let down…” It’s about perseverance in the midst of life’s disappointments. It doesn’t really sound like a conventional “alt country” jam, but rather provides a sort of stripped down alt country feel to it. The track crescendos to a sort of call to action – bringing in an almost celebratory call for people to make it. It’s beautiful in many ways.

All told, this Jordan Whitmore album is going to make a lot of fans from the alt country and indie country world. She’s got a great voice, nice sensitivities in writing, and an eye toward making the world a better place. Some of the songs seem to reflect on deep personal issues, but many of them are universal. It strikes me as a perfect album to help friends who only listen to contemporary country music realize there’s something richly available in the indie and alt country world. Consider throwing this album on for a house party and wait for someone around about track two to say, “hey, who is this? I really like it.”

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