New EP from Dan Jordan

Photo © Nikola Rysova

The late John Gibbens, a former colleague of mine and the author of a guide to Bob Dylan’s music, The Nightingale’s Code, used to start talks on the master singer/songwriter by playing a Dylan instrumental.

Slightly bonkers, one might say. But I think he was making the point that the essence of what Dylan was about could be heard in his music as much as in his words – particularly in its rhythm and its mood.

Somehow this came to mind when I was listening to the final – instrumental – track on the new EP from Pembrokeshire musician Dan Jordan, The Trouble With Monsters.

Death Valley is a cinematic Morricone-esque mix of melancholy and poignancy (co-written with pianist Gheorghe Simion) – dark and yet uplifting in the midst of bleakness. This seems to be what Dan Jordan is about; and when he adds his words and his singing on the vocal version of Death Valley, we are taken even further into the heart of a harsh world.

Jordan’s voice refuses to be sweet or pretty – and is definitely not your friend. It comes from the Cave/Cohen/Dylan school of uncompromise, laden with doom, telling you the way things are, whether you like them or not.

Perhaps in recognition of that, he employs the totally contrasting voice of Elena Rose to balance things out a little soundwise and to sharpen up the impact of his lyrics.

These Kinda Things uses the two voices to good effect to create an elegaic lament for stuff going wrong, while On Your Mind has an almost folky sound – but very much from the dark end of the folk spectrum.

Quicksilver is perhaps the most impressive track, illustrating how Jordan is not that interested in conventional approaches to song presentation. Here the song seems to become a journey, a musical and mysterious development that unfolds, taking you from A to Z rather than just circling around A and B.

Jordan has something special. His songs are very much him and very much complete. They sound like they come naturally but they are no doubt the result of a lot of hard work as well as hard talent. And all of that deserves wider recognition.

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Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at

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