Jordan Paul was 17 when the idea for the hauntingly beautiful “Strange,” came to him.
“Back in high school, compassion always felt out of place,” Paul said. “But my raison d’être has always been trying to understand other people, to love other people. I’ve always felt that beyond this illusion that we’re all separate, if you look hard enough, you can see that we’re all one.”
Released in April, “Strange” communicates this sentiment perfectly. Mellotrons and juno synths swirl beneath Paul’s silky-smooth tenor, permeating warmth and unity. Carefully crafted harmonies and the soft touch of baritone guitar recall the smooth, vulnerable anthems of Jeff Buckley and the Beatles’ White Album.
“I think of music as a great catalyst for human connection. Strange- both lyrically and instrumentally- is a plea for that.”
When I first stumbled upon Jordan Paul’s intoxicating performance of “Strange” at Rivoli in Toronto, I did a double take. Standing upstage of the band, was a guitar-wielding Canadian folk troubadour with long flowing hair.
Andy Shauf, I thought. This guy ?has to be ? Andy Shauf. Pretty soon, I’ll hear that trademark mumble-croon, and there will be no mistaking it. But then he stepped to the mic, assertive and smiling, and with the sweetest, purest voice, swept me away.
There is plenty of Shauf, and the Canadian indie folk scene as a whole, traceable in Paul’s gorgeous balladry. His 2019 EP was recorded at Jon Anderson’s Protection Island Studios in British Columbia, the rustic hideaway responsible for The Bearer of Bad News, Foxwarren, and Aidan Knight’s 2013 masterpiece, Small Reveal.
What sets Jordan Paul’s new single “Strange”- and the rest of his discography- apart from those contemporaries, is the way it bucks the folk storytelling format: a lonely guy with a guitar telling bar tales. Instead, Paul’s music is more about emotional resonance.
A lot of stuff occurs to me figuratively. Sometimes I’m figuring out what my own songs mean after I write them. The most important thing is that I’m showing vulnerability, so other people can feel some sort of solace in my music.
“For whatever reason I don’t think literally” Paul said. “A lot of stuff occurs to me figuratively. Sometimes I’m figuring out what my own songs mean after I write them. The most important thing is that I’m showing vulnerability, so other people can feel some sort of solace in my music.”
Finding solace in Jordan Paul’s lovely compositions feels natural, in part, because of his expansive and powerful vocal talent. Instead of a complicated melody-driving band arrangement, “Strange” features a subdued ensemble of gentle guitars and keyboards. This leaves room for Paul’s voice to pack an incredible emotional punch.
Jordan Paul’s effort to spread love and unity through music isn’t stalling under quarantine. He recently released his second sublime single of 2020, “Emerald Glass” on all streaming platforms. Stay on the lookout for upcoming releases from the Canadian folk-rocker.