My first opportunity to hear Jordan Danielsen play was at Creekside Vineyards last year on the day of my photo exhibit. His original music at that time seemed diverse – a little rock, a little roots. With the release of his new CD, Old Soul, I now understand that diversity.
Recorded with Rob Cimmarusti at Real Trax recording in Davenport, Iowa, Danielsen’s first CD, Night Alone in the City, is a rock/alternative album. He refers to it as his party album, with a horn section and electric guitars. “He (Cimmarusti) did a great job, I miss working with him” says Danielsen.
Old Soul is significantly different from its predecessor. With a genre change to a sound that is more Americana, it harnesses the recording prowess of Jordan’s longtime friend and bandmate, Dustin Cobb of Joy Avenue Media in Bettendorf. Not only was the production different, but the horns and electric guitars were replaced by Ben Lorentzen on violin and Nick Vasquez on piano and organ.
A participant in Cobb’s Monday night collaboration sessions at Joy Avenue, Danielsen knew when his first two songs done in that format went so well he wanted to create an entire album that way. The initial songs in that format were Father of Water and Rainy Days are Good Days for Playing Sad, Sad Songs.
With a planned release in Spring 2014, the original album title was to be Southbound in the Springtime. Danielsen likes to stick with a theme and let the songs in an album work together to tell a story. With several travel tunes, he thought the travel theme would work well – until the artwork moved him in the direction of Old Soul. The look of old ragtime art has always been a favorite, and this theme worked as well.
“Father of Water is about the history of the Mississippi River. Ninnian's Ballad is a song about my 3rd Great-Grandfather. Baltimore is a song about a widower recollecting his wife through a song on an old phonograph.” Danielsen explains, “I'm a bit of a history buff… not to mention it just took so long to finalize and receive that I felt Old Soul is a fitting title.”
Jordan talks about the individual songs on the album, and says none of them were difficult to write. In fact, four of the songs were written in single night sessions along with longtime friend Dana Moss Peterson: Father of Water, Baltimore, Southbound in the Springtime and Old Soul. Both the ease of writing and the collaboration make those songs special. Danielsen says, “I feel the release of Old Soul is a better representation of me, than Night Alone in the City. I hope that people listen from the beginning to end to enjoy the complete work, as opposed to individual songs.”
Mostly recorded in his home studio, Baltimore was nearly a complete recording in one night. Randy Leasman brought in the fretless bass later on in production. Danielsen believes songs that come together quickly are just meant to be. He wrote Denver Colorado about his biological father. At the time he wrote it, he had not yet met the man. “I wrote it about ten years ago,” he says “it's a pretty simple tune but means a lot to me.”
The most difficult song, Carolynn was nearly scrapped from Old Soul because Danielsen just wasn't hearing what he wanted. In the end it came out the way he intended and he is happy with it now. Us My Love was the last song added; it is one of the most recently written. Danielsen admits it is one of his favorites on this album. “I love the harmonies that Jef Spradley added and Nick Vasquez ripped out one of the coolest piano solos on it. I played nylon string and Randy Leaseman added some last minute Ukulele.”
Danielsen performs 3-6 times per week, earning the status of regional artist. He is striving to make that region bigger and it gets better every year. He would like to get music from Old Soul out there as much as possible, on as many sites, soundtracks, and avenues available. He is the ultimate DIY musician, not only writing, playing and singing. He is also his own booking agent, administrator, and tour director, doing his own PR and more. “Since it's only me doing everything it doesn't always happen as fast as I'd like to but I know a thing or two about perseverance.” Watch for more videos and more recording. With all of the songs already written, he’s in presentation mode now.
Jordan will have copies of Old Soul available at all of his upcoming shows. This week, you can catch him at 11th Street Precinct Thursday night, Wide River Winery in LeClaire fro 5-8 on Friday and in Stockton, IL on Saturday.