Album review: Family Jordan | Big Grass

Holiday Maker Records is a new Gold Coast label, with a focus on cultivating an immersive creative dynamic amongst its developing roster of kindred spirit walkers and renegades.

For exhibit A in the Holiday Maker gallery of album releases, we’re presented with the new offering from Northern Rivers collective Family Jordan, entitled ‘Big Grass’. And for album number four they’ve delved into their traditionalist roots to deliver a heartfelt suite of country and folk rock-tinged laments channelling the cream of songwriting craft of yonder.

Key creative kingpin Jordan Rochfort leads the band through a ten-song opus which hangs together seamlessly as a cohesive whole, creating a thematic mood and consistent feel inherent within the finest offerings of the Laurel Canyon crew of the heady 70s.

Rochefort’s musical cohort Samuel Joseph plays a key role in the vibe of the record, his banjo and pedal steel flourishes adding the tone and texture to his band leader’s wistful, ebbing vocals and classically-infused songcraft.

Setting the grassy scene with a breezy instrumental opening number entitled ‘Adios’, the band then proceed to hitch their band-wagon to the dusty high-country trails and roll into town with the splendidly titled ‘Sideburn #16’.

The album’s title track (named in homage to the caravan in which Rochfort resided while writing the album) is one of the album’s highlights; three minutes of bouncy, country inflected perfection embellished with the tasteful strains of Kellie Murphy’s violin, in turns doleful and jaunty.

‘Stillness’ is a gorgeously emotive number fleshed out with weepy pedal steel flourishes as Rochfort lays bears his predicament in a three-minute songwriting masterclass; “Pink is the colour of unconditional love and I’ve been wearing pink for too long.”

‘Let Me In’ is a memorable country strummer featuring sweet female vocal co-harmonising from Mylee Grace, while elsewhere the band show their versatility and fearlessness in busting out a cover of the track ‘Crying Eyes’, its piano driven strains paying reverential homage to its originator, critically lauded American singer-songwriter J.J Cale.

Another striking feature of the album is the evocative rainforest sleeve artwork in which it resides, displaying a classic 1865 print called ‘Fern Tree Gully’ by Nicholas Chevalier.

Final number, ‘Sally’, is yet another sweetheart of the rodeo, illuminating all of the band’s charms within a rousing, multi layered chorus that lingers on the breeze and in the grass.

With ‘Big Grass’, Family Jordan have delivered a song-suite that effortlessly flits between wistful contemplation and jaunty exuberance, playing as a cohesive listening whole, just like records used to be made. It’s the type of album that repays multiple listenings, and one which will immerse itself into your country-fried heart if you give it the chance.

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