Jordan Reynolds is ready for her close-up. The 24-year-old spent spent much of her youth collaborating, a key cog in the indie dream pop produced by Bowling Green’s Buffalo Rodeo. A slew of promising releases spawned DIY tours in college towns and metropolitan areas across the United States, but a proper LP never culminated.
Rose Hotel has existed, even as just a small figment in Reynolds’ mind, for at least a couple years, and the Atlanta resident releases her debut EP, Always A Good Reason, August 25th on Fir Trade Records.
The project has origins as an outlet for songs and ideas that got shelved in Buffalo Rodeo. Her sharp observations examine the fragile nature of relationships, the awkward and painful journey of watching the lust of youth fade into the stern realities of adulthood. Her lyrics sear with the honesty and urgency of 3 a.m. iPhone notes, the kind of morning after meditations that are scribbled onto the back of receipts and wine-stained barroom napkins. The wisdom you cling to when the muse disappears.
The songwriter’s solo material, though sonically more simple than the impressive songbook of Buffalo Rodeo, is more rooted in the “three chords and the truth” proclamations you hear in old country songs. Less Tame Impala, more Hank Williams.
“Honestly,” the debut single from the release is tinged with classic country influences, Reynolds’ pure voice drenched in authenticity. It plays like a song you’d find browsing the radio dial in the 1970s, somewhere between Nixon and Reagan. Back when the voices of Emmylou Harris and Joni Mitchell cut through the hiss of A.M. static.
The song is penned to “a man that’s losing too,” her wise and weary lyrics an exercise in acceptance and knowing when it’s time to go. “A woman’s only half her words and half what she decides to do,” Reynolds sings. Rose Hotel’s developing songbook draws strength from not wincing in detailing pain, heartbreak and unrelenting anxiety.
“Tell Me Now,” one of the first tracks written for the forthcoming release, relies strictly on the power of Reynolds’ voice over simple guitar chords. It slowly builds until Reynolds’ guitar picking escalates from calm, moody strumming into an urgent, cathartic pace. “Don’t you know how I lose sleep,” she sings to an old flame.
Reynolds has a knack for crafting anthems that resonate with the chronically blue. The songwriter came of age in the narrow-minded borders of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a sleepy Bible Belt town that is the third largest in Kentucky, yet has failed to adopt a fairness ordinance. Her debut is rife with world-weary reflections on love and loss, capturing the troubling process of making sense of the haunts of youth.
“I want you like school kids want Saturday,” Reynolds sings on EP closer “Wistfully.” The longing in Reynolds’ voice is reminiscent to Marianne Faithfull’s melancholy rendition of Rolling Stoned ditty “As Tears Go By.”
“We’ll leave it behind if that’s what we find is right at the time,” Reynolds laments.
The 6-track release is a striking debut that will likely have new listeners and old fans alike pining for more. Reynolds stares down heartbreak and twenty-something malaise with a razor-sharp eye on “Always A Good Reason.” Rose Hotel’s magic doesn’t lie in lush, high-dollar studio production but in the smooth velvety tones of her voice and in her fierce lyrical honesty, plainly spoken, but poetic all the same.