Album Review: Jordie Lane – Glassellland

No, that’s not a typo. The album title is really Glassellland. What does that mean? I can’t say that I’m sure. But why am I covering the album? Because it’s delightfully complex, compellingly well written, and sounds like how a good glass of whiskey tastes. It’s bitter and warm. It’s unsettling at times. Bridging the gap between folk and Americana, Jordie Lane has created a pathbreaking and inspring sound. Let me explain.

The harmonica opening to “Black Diamond” stunned me on first listen, then Lane’s vocal entered the track and absolutely blew me away. This is what I’m looking for when I hear new music. It shouldn’t sound like the same old thing; let me tell you there’s no one making music like Jordie Lane right now. The closest thing I’ve heard to this kind of country/Americana music is probably in the Tyler Childers realm. Lane has a lonesome sincerity in his vocal that makes you believe every damn word he sings. We don’t get many artists like this in a generation, let alone on the cutting edge of new music.

“Out of State” lumbers along like a folk song with a bright syncopation and some unique harmonies. The haunting minor key work on the chorus makes the track stand out. If this had been the first track I heard, I still would have fallen in love with the record. It leads beautifully into “A Piece of Land,” a lamenting electric guitar-based track. One of the key characteristics of Lane’s style is the presence of the poetic. This one in particular reminds me a little of the texture of John Fulbright. Lane has that Grammy-worthy Americana depth to his songwriting.

“Better Not Go Outside” sounds so much like a Dylan track that I searched to make sure it wasn’t. Based on some of the chord progressions on this and other tracks, Dylan figures to be an influence on Lane’s music. The following “Time Just Flew” has a gritty, folk feel to it. It feels like it might have been written while hopping rail cars in another era. It’s got a depth to it that doesn’t even seem possible to be modern music.

“Frederick Steele McNeil Ferguson” is one of the most unique songs I’ve ever heard regardless of genre or style. It brings to life the realities of what was then called “shell shock” in the context of World War I. It’s got a thread of connection as the character was the grandfather of the lead vocal. I don’t know if it’s based on a true story, but the way it talks about the historical legacy of war eminating throughout a family is fascinating and underexplored in music. I appreciate, especially, that it’s not a tidy morality tale; it’s complex, warped, distorted, and gives the listener a sense of how guilt can seep into far more than just the immediate years of an event.

There’s some continuity with “Dreamin’ the Life” and “In Dreams of War.” Both are, obviously, about dreams. But what I love is that they are different types of dreams, one being aspirational and the other being escapist. I appreciate the psychedelic elements in the latter track. “Everybody’s talking to themselves” feels like one of those prophetically powerful statements.

The final track “Rambling Mind” puts me in mind of some great songwriters like Kristofferson or even John Prine. It moves along like a traditional love song in some ways, but it also has a sense of space between the lines that punctuates the lines carefully. It’s a real love song and it’s the perfect way to simply end a complex album.

If you’re looking for a truly unique Americana album, definitely throw this one from Jordie Lane on your player of choice and have a blast. It’s an adventure from an artist who is worth knowing for this and future work.

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