Ashville-based singer-songwriter Jordan Okrend’s jazzy soulful renditions are emblazed with energetic vibes, enlightened social commentary, and a sound that is best described as infectious jazz addictive tunes with a twist of funk embedded into the mixture.
Okrend’s first two EP’s, Unpredictable and Rising Up, was released between 2010 and 2012 while he was attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. His last EP. World Keeps Turnin’, is a marked move toward imbuing the sounds of other revival soul upstarts such as, Allen Stone and Michael Kiwanuka. Okrend has been performing extensively in live venues throughout the East Coast from the very start.
Okrend’s latest album, Dance By The Riverside, is underlined with the punk spirit, embossing socially aware lyrics into his strum of retro-era and soulful jazz-influenced, funk vibe.
The album opens with “Unknown Love,” a track that has a funky feel to the production that is produced with a stellar brass section. The savvy sounds of horns and saxophone erupts with a retro-twist, paving the track with an amped feel to the altogether groovy sound. This is a feel-good track as well as filled with sonically enhanced arrays of jazz and funk into the bluesy ensemble.
The next song, “Stranded,” is, too, filled with an energetic vibe. The buoyant sound is attired with a bouncy, groovy vibe with electric guitars and bass delineating on rhythms. The track also resonates with a great bluesy vibe filled with funk and a retrospective sound. The reverberating guitars on this guitar heavy track incorporates a lively horn section that gives the song its distinct feel.
The title-track, “Dance By The Riverside,” is driven by an amped vocal and soulful vibe. The socially conscious lyrics about social media tied in with the enthused sound makes you altogether feel alive and the great flow and soundscape atmosphere gives off a bouncy jive. Add in the drums and this gives the landscape of the music a more rhythmic pulse, attesting to a more jaunty beat. This guitar clad song goes on an old school tangent, with its rocking vibe giving off a classic rock feel.
“Tomorrow” layers in distinct harmonies and contagious hooks to contribute to the over-arching soulful sound that triumphantly enlists soaring and uplifting harmonies and a great acoustic feel. The spiraling sound dressed with harmonizing vocals, a driving beat from the drums, and rhythmic strumming from the acoustic guitar is intoxicating.
“Infinity” mixes in a jazz sound with some gritty blues. The steady drumming underlined with a clear retro-funk sound honed on this recording is encased in a soulful and inviting vibe.
These bluesy renditions are jolted with a clear-cut great live sound. This is evident on the acoustic guitar on “Changing My Mind” that has a great interlay of finger work on the guitar, in the melodic layers of “Join Me” that is jumpstarted by the fiery sound of drums and the dynamic duress of the electric guitar solo that sounds-off mid-song, and the political release of “Unity,” an ambitious funk-heavy acoustic live track about the election this past year.
After releasing 3 sonically raw and authentic EPs, Okrend soldiers on with these original compositions on his latest, Dance By The Riverside. These stellar musical flares of infectious hooks are heighten by the artistry of each track on this exciting compilation that is jam-packed from the get-go with a granular bluesy style and retro-stance beat. This collection of vibrant blues and funk, retro-twist songs has each track followed by an enthused jam-session and a welling of tight musicianship filled with the amp spirit. There is definitely a polished feel to this record, followed up by a great live sound. It is obvious that Okrend can deliver; Dance By The Riverside ends with a bang with “Unity,” which was recorded as a live acoustic set imbued with the punk spirit as the song talks about the politically divided and advising us to unite as a “remedy” to impart change for future generations. Appealing with an ostentatiously funk-driven, bluesy approach, there is a clanging energy to the soulful track.
The scope of the record is altogether unfazed by the pop sector of mainstream music. Instead, it seems like Jordan Okrend chooses to focus on his own unique sound. Speaking out on what he hopes to achieve with his music, Okrend says: “The emphasis is on speaking to the human experience. I hope this album inspires and uplifts all who hear it.” 7.8/10
The album is out now!