The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 21, 2014

Arresting composition: Jordan Carr reinvents himself on stage

Former Mankato resident playing Savoy concert

By Tanner Kent tkent@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — When an 8-month jail sentence derailed the release of Jordan Carr’s debut solo album, he had plenty of time to plan his comeback.

Sitting in his Martin County Jail cell, Carr filled three notebooks with ideas and plans for his musical career after his release. Though he got out of jail in 2013 and has already released his debut effort (self-deprecatingly titled “Reinventing the Dumbass”), Carr said he still reviews those notebooks every now and then to refresh his ambitions.

“For those eight months, I recited every song over and over in my head,” said Carr, who will play the songs from that album during a performance 10 p.m. today at Savoy. “I had a lot of time to think.”

The saga began several years ago when Carr and members of his former band played a gig in Blue Earth. After drinks at the bar, band members went to a house party where it became apparent they had talked with the wrong girl at the bar. Somebody pushed Carr from behind; in retaliation, Carr smashed a beer bottle over the perpetrator’s head.

Though Carr left before police arrived, he received a phone call two years later saying he was to appear in court on a series of assault charges. His lawyer advised that he would be afforded no breaks and Carr descended into a morass of depression and fear. Three days before he struck a plea deal, Carr finished writing the songs for his album.

“It was a strange, dark period,” said Carr, who attended college at South Central College. “I was roaming around Mankato in the dark ... nothing but booze, drugs and lots of recording.”

Upon his release, Carr immediately set out to finish his record, enlisting the help of fellow Mankato musicians to mix, master and edit the final production. The result is a poetic, if brooding, mixture of self-loathing, excess and abuse that is authentic as it is arresting.

On the opening track, Carr employs a spoken-word delivery as he summarizes the album’s thesis: “I used to have some problems. Now, I got so many I can’t even count.”

On “Soothing Melody,” Carr explores empty bottles and empty relationships within a pleasant, pop-acoustic structure. Through endearingly flawed vocals, he croons: “If this picture screamed a thousand words, I guess a thousand words have gone unheard.”

Far from being a raucous endorsement of debauchery, however, the album mostly follows in a similarly contemplative tone before landing on the penultimate (and perhaps most ambitious) track, “Knights in Tallahassee.” Lamenting a loss of love and self over soaring instrumentation, Carr sings: “I’ve been traveling from coast to coast and sea to shining sea, every bartender’s got a story about me.”

Now several months removed from the release of his album, Carr said he’s proud of the music he created. He said he reached a high-water mark last week in Sioux Falls when he played to a crowd of about 50 — all of whom knew the words to his songs.

“It’s been an awesome response,” he said. “It’s maybe the only thing in my life I’ve been 100 percent confident in.”

For more information about Carr and his music, visit http://1badboyjordancarr.bandcamp.com.

If You Go What Jordan Carr and The Boys, with guests Evasive Manuever When 10 p.m. today Where Savoy, 526. S. Front St. Note No cover charge; ages 21-plus only