Songstress Jordan Igoe keeps artistry alive through musicIn the tenors of the waterfront of Charleston, South Carolina, Jordan Igoe is a vessel. That’s the implication in the multiple videos of her live performances, wherein the Southern native singer-songwriter cradles her guitar and croons into the microphone with a delicate yet raw voice. (Think Zooey Deschanel channeling a Johnny Cash impression and delivering stories usually dealing with hurt, heartbreak and mortality.)
“Generally speaking, a good song is derived from a strong emotion,” Igoe says, “and those typically happen to be from pain. It’s what comes out of that pain that makes you stronger, and that is why I choose to transform bad things that happen to me into something melodic and beautiful.”
Igoe’s first bout with singing occurred when she was little. While watching “The Little Mermaid,” she would channel the envious sound of Ariel, but her musical background can also be attributed to family. Inspired by her mother’s talent in singing, dancing and playing piano, Igoe learned through observation. She taught herself piano at a mere 10-years-old before she learned guitar. In her formative school years, she sang in choir and briefly majored in vocal performance in college.
In a musical era where some self-proclaimed musicians can only justify their work as a hobby, or others “sell out” for the sake of royalties, Jordan Igoe is the real deal. In the duo Double Trash, composed of her and Mackie Boles, she goes against the normal definition of success in “Rules and Religion”: I don’t want to grow old/I don’t want to get tired/Your American dreams/They don’t start any fires.” On the demo “Happy Story Hour,” she sings with soulful anguish, backed by bluesy guitar riffs and slow and muted beats. This isn’t something that Igoe takes lightly.
Her songs tell the brutal stories of letting down your guard and going down a path of recklessness. Themes range from alcoholism, to hovering threats of religion, to guilt of familial relationships. “Life is simple if you’re not learning/Presume it’s your highest noon/I was you once/I got swallowed by the world and it spit me up,” Igoe sings with an ominous warning of the dangers of naiveté on “I Was You.”
“[O]ur job as musicians [is] to sing about things that matter, and there are too many of us willing to sacrifice pure art for the fame and money,” Igoe says. “Our society awards us for the things that generate mass audiences.”
Inspiration ranges from fellow Charleston musicians like Carey Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope (2013 Americana Award winners for emerging band and song of the year). She also reserves admiration for country singers, like Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, George Straight and Patsy Cline. “She is one of my all-time favorites,” Igoe notes. Classic artists like Billy Joel and the Beatles impressed her rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities. Only recently has Igoe become proud of dubbing herself a “complete nerd, musically.”
Although she admits to becoming frustrated with a society that does not take time to know music as intensely, she considers the challenge an occasion to work and make people listen. “I’m a dreamer and I believe a difference can be made, and our society is showing signs of change,” she says.
Lately, Igoe has been recording her first full-length album with Wolfgang Zimmerman, a sought-after producer of indie music in the Charleston area. A band member of Brave Baby, Zimmerman has worked with Igoe since March and they expect a late-January release. During the making of the album, she focused on trivialities of the recording process, like worrying about one single beat being even a little off or failing to captivate with perfect vocals. It was all very time consuming.
“I want to work incredibly hard every day so that I know I’m doing everything I can to accomplish that goal,” Igoe says.
Her self-taught and educational experiences definitely resonate in her philosophy of success. “Success is making the most of every day no matter what goes wrong,” she remarks. “I want to make a difference in this world and I want to connect with people through my songs.”
To download both the demo tracks mentioned in this article, go to: happystoryhour.bandcamp.com.
The Calico Room
107 S. Front Street
Thursday, October 10th
Doors, 8 p.m.; show 9 p.m.
$3 for 18 plus