Tall Dark Friend A.K.A Jordan Grey is a twenty-something virtuoso Pianist and vocalist from Thurrock, UK. With a killer reputation for energetic and passionate live shows, she’s certainly made a name for herself on the indie music circuit.
As well as live performances, Jordan also records her own material, I am going to be doing a track by track review of her 2015 release “The Baffled King”.
Track 1 – When I Do
The first track of the album titled “When I Do” is what I deem a perfect start to an album. It is an upbeat track driven by Piano, Guitar and Drums with amazing lyrics to compliment the instrumentation, including an orchestral section at 2:51! Jordan’s vocals really reflect and go hand in hand with the powerful lyrics, this track certainly does the best job of grabbing your attention!
One thing that struck me about this track was how beautifully simple it is. There’s nothing to complex about the chord structure or the way the instruments are played, everything just sits comfortably in a nice, neat line, combining the genres of Rock and Ballad to a tee. I really enjoyed the brief use of Orchestra at 2:51, this was a brilliant way for Jordan to add some dynamic contrast to the overall product. “What I Do” is the perfect drive-along feel good song. I couldn’t stop smiling and dancing around when listening to it. Top work!
Track 2 – Y.O.L.F.O
Y.O.L.F.O shifts the album into another gear,and we’re not even half way through yet! I dubbed it as pure genius from bar one, and this is a statement I completely stand by and probably always will. Tall Dark Friend’s use of vocal harmony really fills out the track, making sure there are no un-needed gaps as the track flows from bar to bar, line to line.
Again, Grey makes brilliant use of dynamic contrasting from 3:00 with a steady build up within the instrumentation at 3:25 until the track reaches a well timed and perfect crescendo at 3:37! During this dynamic contrast section, there is one repeating lyric: “we’ll live forever, once, then never again”. I’m not sure exactly what this lyric means but it certainly resonated with me. It is starkly clear to me that these lyrics are from the heart, yet they have clearly been well thought out to mould together a track that is more than chart worthy!
Track 3 – Corridors
Track number three has got to be one of my favourite Tall Dark Friend tracks! I’ve been fortunate enough to see this one performed live on several occasions and it blows my mind every single time! The combination of generally fantastic musicianship and technology on the studio version of this track is one thing that sticks out for me, it adds a somewhat futuristic feels to the track and for me, it is the perfect answer to the question “Who IS Tall Dark Friend?”, Corridors just captures everything that makes Tall Dark Friend who she is and condensed lovingly into a 3 minute track of perfection, showing off her vocal range for the first (and not the last time) on this album. This track is always my go to track when listening to Jordan’s work, I know all of the lyrics too! No shame whatsoever! Pure genius!
I could seriously go on about this track for hours, I could probably dedicate a whole blog to Tall Dark Friend’s work, it is seriously THAT BRILLIANT!
Track 4 – Hang With The Happiness
This is the sort of track that makes you want to get up and dance as soon as it starts! A brilliant tongue and cheek middle finger to her critics , Jordan hits the nail on the head with what she is trying to say and accomplish with this track. She even added in a short rap section which shows us another side to her musical abilities.
This track has limited and basic instrumentation although it works surprisingly well with counter melodies that most musicians wouldn’t think of using that actually compliment eachother. This track is full of inspirational words from a writer and musician who has taken on the world, and WON!
Track 5 – Girl With The Fringe
This track causes the album to take another twist on the journey towards track 14. I can’t put my finger on why, but this one didn’t strike a chord in me. There were some extremely interesting lyrics throughout but nothing really resonated with me, I couldn’t connect with it like the other tracks. It’s probably because I’m not a girl with a fringe!
Despite this, the instrumentation is yet again well thought out and compliments everything nicely! It’s just the lyrics that I can’t get my head around so much. There is no denying that it is still a good track none the less.
Track 6 – Honey, I’m Home
This track starts yet another portion of the album journey. Introducing several ballad tracks following it, it is a definite improvement from track 5! Honey, I’m Home yet again does a brilliant job of showcasing Jordan’s vocal range and ability, singing a set of poignant lyrics such as “swimming through a lake of love though the waters cold”. To me, this track is conveying images of hope, this is something everyone can relate to. I’m not sure what the actual meaning of the lyrics are, this was just my own interpretation.
I feel that this track would really suit a wedding first dance scenario. This is because of the powerful lyrics and the soft piano. I absolutely adore the stripped back style to this track and the emotions it caused me to feel. The finale of this track really took my by surprise but in a really great way! A brilliant use of transposition at 5:50 concludes a track that I can literally find 0 faults with!
Track 7 – Now You Need Me (Now You Don’t)
This is a track that truly masters the blend of guitar and piano, it’s obvious that this was meant to be a track driven through harmonies and a solid band. Track 7 has also given Grey an opportunity to showcase a more rocky edge to her vocal tone which is a brilliant way of showing the listener what she is capable of doing.
I love the fact that on this track, as well as others, Jordan makes sure not to limit herself to just Piano and Vocals. She really tries to unlock and exploit every instrument she can in the most musically bliss way possible! It’s a short and sweet track that allows you to indulge deeper into the heart and mind of a true genuine artist, but because of it’s length, doesn’t reveal too much! There is still 7 more tracks to go, after all!
Track 8 – Didn’t You Know?
Didn’t You Know is truly a magical track! It’s your typical pop anthem with the adventurous Tall Dark Friend twist, this combination creates a track that should be a worldwide number one hit! I just wish it could’ve been a longer track, although the short but sweet formula used throughout the last few tracks seems to be working well, maybe there will be an extended version one of these days! (Jordan, if you’re reading this, this is a subtle hint 😉
Track 9 – Neptune Tune
This track took an extremely unexpected twist into the realms of techno. I must admit, I wasn’t a very big fan of this one, it feels a little out of place compared to the rest of the album if I’m being completely critical. However, it does do a great job of exploiting all of Tall Dark Friend’s musical personalities and shows how diverse of a musician she is. Her diversity is one of the many things that made me fall in love with her music in the first place.
Track 10 – More Than Mates (You and Me)
Track ten settles down again compared to Neptune Tune, it goes back to a style that I feel suits Tall Dark Friend best. More Than Mates seems like your typical relationship style track, which everyone can relate to. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind covering track in my own set, although I doubt I’d do it any justice whatsoever!
Admittedly, I was slightly worried that the album was declining in quality as the end was nigh. Thankfully, Jordan managed to perform a rescue mission with this one and managed to keep me engrossed in her musical craziness once again! There are slight techno elements to this track too but, in my opinion, it is done miles better than the previous track.
Track 11 – Way Back When
From the first few lines, this song strikes the chords of the heartstrings in spectacular T.D.F fashion, it’s an entire track of the kind of subtle flair and brilliance that only she can capture. Way Back When tells a story like no other, I was immersed into this track from the start, it captures the heart and takes you on a musical, emotional fairground ride that you really don’t want to end. The most incredible thing about it is the fact that there was no need to use elaborate chord sequences or busy instrumentation, the marrying of piano and lyrics do it more than justice.
Track 12 – King Of Hands
Continuing on the path of heart throbbing piano ballads, you can hear Jordan’s passion within every syllable of this song. The storytelling is a take you by the hand adventure that is so mesmerising and capturing, you may as well be in Wonderland! Everything about this track just seemed effortless. Again, there is brilliant use of orchestra throughout this track, the orchestration on the entire album is amazing, as a composer, this is something that really sticks out for me. It really is nothing short of perfection this track, and I could listen to it over and over again.
Track 13 – See My Bones
I must confess, that I am seriously running out of compliments to give this crazy talented artist! Tracks 11-13 really compliment eachother, it is as if she has devoted a certain number of tracks to a certain genre that she plays, if this is the case, then it is a very clever idea and works very well!
I loved the re-introduction of beatoxing and sampling in this track. I also really enjoyed the sudden change of tempo during the track, going from a ballad to a form of upbeat jazz piece. With every track, a new side to Jordan’s playing seems to become unlocked, this excites me more than I can really put into words, I admire Jordan for taking the time and effort to really explore various styles throughout this album, she certainly knows how to be versatile!
Track 14 – Zero
And here we are, the fourteenth and final track that wraps up a stunning collection of Tall Dark Friends work! This track could not have been more fitting either, combining almost every element of the album to create one final curtain call of perfection. See My Bones compliments it’s 13 other friends beyond measure, slotting in perfectly to create a complete Tall Dark Friend musical puzzle! Some could say that this track falls flat compared to the rest, but I completely disagree with this. Each track on this album clearly had it’s place, and this is where See My Bones belongs.
In conclusion, The Baffled King is what I deem a track by track masterclass and is an inspiration to listen to! I honestly believe that this album will one day be up there with the timeless classics we all know and love today! It has been crafted with the right amount of love and affection required to create something this sublime, Tall Dark Friend grabs you by the hand from track one, and from then on, you follow her through a 14 track quest to touch every possible music side to her that you can.
The Baffled King more than deserves a place in the charts and it saddens me that it isn’t up there with the likes of Adele and Sam Smith! Anyone that hasn’t heard this album should make it their belated New Years resolution to sit down, close their eyes and get pulled into some Tall Dark Friend.
Okay, I’m now two thousand words in so I’m going to finish up with this:
Jordan/Tall Dark Friend, it’s been a true honour to review something so perfect. A 14 track CD of passion and genius that I know will be up there with the greats one day! I can’t wait until your next release. Stunningly done, my friend, top marks!