Article by: Anthony Florez
Photos by: Daniel Cavazos
Some time last year a friend invited me out to see an up and coming local performer named Jordan Cody perform at Wagner’s Backyard here in Austin, Texas. (Upon seeing Jordan, I realized I’d met her several times at one of my local hangouts where she works as a bartender, paying her dues while also working on her music.) When she started her set, all alone with an acoustic electric, I sat down and got lost in the experience. All too often I’ve found myself taking Texas for granted, it’s still an unusual place to me where neighbors nod hello and strangers are chatty with one another. It’s a beautiful place, Austin in particular, where the sun shines, the beer is cheap, and the music can be unapologetically sincere about love, grief, and life in that way that only country and western can be. Such is the music of Jordan Cody.
Having not always been a fan of either genre, I can’t confess to have been converted just yet, but like anything new or different it takes time, exposure, and the right context to understand it. Sitting in the sunshine with a Lone Star tallboy in hand on a beautiful day in Texas was the right venue. Watching an up and coming singer-songwriter perform on a stage that doesn’t have a lick of paint on it, that was built with lumber, tested for stability and then put into service without so much as being stained or waterproofed was the right setting. Months of working in an office building, stressing out about bills and the commute went away when this, at this point, casual acquaintance took the stage and performed. It was like stepping out of a bunker and I remembered why I’m here, working to make a home in this lovely city. Part of what cleared the cobwebs out of my head was the weather, the friends, and the beer but the majority of it and the thing that kept shutting me up and turning my head was Jordan and her voice. A Texas native by way of Corpus Christi, she attended the island branch of Texas A&M and spent some time in Nashville refining her sound while experiencing the music scene. Influenced by everything from old school country and soul to classic Zeppelin and CCR, she also looks to have that personal, emotional resonance in her music akin to Patsy Cline and Stevie Nicks. She’s also not afraid to dabble in the contemporary: if I ever leave Texas and put together a scrapbook of my favorite moments, the memory of every kiddo and sprat at Wagner’s bolting for the stage to dance along with her cover of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off is going to be in my Top Five.
At the age of 9 I’m pretty sure I was still peeing my pants and running away from girls but Jordan had already picked up a guitar and started writing her own music inspired by her faith. If you ever have the opportunity to meet someone who is pursuing a dream or following their passion instead of a normal 9 to 5 like the rest of us schmucks, it’s a remarkable experience. The thing they are chasing down is usually very difficult, seemingly insurmountable, often considered… unrealistic. This is what makes those people so special: they pursue it anyway. This is not to say Jordan is awesome because she tries hard and doesn’t give up, so let’s give her a gold star. What’s so striking is afterward, how incredibly approachable and kind the woman is, when she has every chance to be anything else. She also has one of the most beautiful singing voices I’ve ever heard in person and the real tragedy here is that it’s me trying to describe it. Elvis Costello once said writing about music is like dancing about architecture and it is the furthest thing from me to do it justice, however I’ve tried because of that thing I mentioned. That thing you see in someone on the trail of some big destiny, living it everyday and struggling for it, you want to pitch in and not so that you can someday say “Oh, I knew them when”. Because it inspires you to put an ear to the ground and start pursuing your own.
Take a listen at her official website and if you’re lucky enough to be in the Austin area she will be performing with a full band at Speakeasy downtown on May 25th. Her new album is due out this summer.