Dave Jordan & the NIA‘s new release, No Losers Tonight, is chock full of unpretentious songs that don’t try and be anything but honest. There are some tracks that will get toes tapping and boots scooting, as well as a few heartfelt ballads that truly hit home. Choruses that were born to be sung along with thanks to clean, clear production and an undeniably exuberant feeling. Other tunes that were meant to reflect the more introspective moments in life resonate just as powerfully. It’s obvious to anyone listening that this is not a band using their skills for crass commercialism…they simply want to make music that moves the heart and body.
Songs like disc opener “Southern Girl” and the title track “No Losers Tonight” are perfect examples of the straight ahead sound this outfit can lay down when they so choose. Rocking guitars, crisp drums and a driving lyrical presence out front, loud and proud. An undercurrent of smoldering organs and rhythm guitar licks open up “Smoke” and give Jordan a chance to focus his energy on the task at hand, telling tales of the difficulty of life and love. With his name out front, this is clearly Jordan’s showcase and though he freely shares the foreground with his backing band he holds court with unshakable confidence that is musically refreshing.
There are a few numbers, like “Come A Little Closer” that bring the tempo down to an intimate whisper between two lovers entwined in a dance. The song benefits greatly form the strains of the band’s New Orleans roots showing in the strains of accordian and ragtime jazz time signatures. “Pontchartrain” takes things even lower and slower…showing some impressive blues guitar licks as it meanders along like the waves on the lake the song is named after. It is impressive to see a band feel comfortable enough to take the idea of a ten minute song into their collective hearts and make it so listeners feel sad when it ends. Utilizing folkier instruments for the more introspective pieces creates a rapport with listeners that benefits immensely from the rockier early tunes by simple contrast.
The album’s closing tracks take a turn for the melancholy with “Baby I’m Gone” and especially “Dreams So Real” show Jordan at a seeming musical impasse, not sure which direction to take at a crossroads. The blues vibe on “Dreams” is powerful, almost oppressive…as if it was the very clouds during a storm. a clever use of piano bursts against lush bowed notes adds texture to the storm. As they show on No Losers Tonight, Dave Jordan and his band are capable of doing many thing well. It will be interesting to watch this band and see which of their many muses the chose to follow.