Though basing the title around the varied sound and temperatures of its songs, JC Jordan and The Way's debut full-length Between the Shadow and the Light is eerily titled. Through death, legal troubles and the burden of starting completely over, this musician and his crew have seen both darkness and joy in the seven years since their last release. For all the emotional changes that have occurred though, these songs aren't the blistering stomps you may expect with those sorts of circumstances. Here, they breathe with a shocking amount of ease, and bubble over with creativity and professionalism; a rare feat for many to accomplish.
The Mississippi-bred Jordan has been active in Chicago's music scene for over ten years, having relocated to the Windy City after picking up classical guitar and being influenced by blues, folk and bluegrass. Through open mic nights at Subterranean and Inner Town Pub, Jordan eventually met up with those that would make up The Way, releasing the Come Inside EP in 2005. After only three shows with drummer Tim Rutkowski and bassist Elroy Wooley, Rutkowski suddenly passed away. After attempting to cope with that loss and regrouping, The Way's new drummer was arrested soon after joining the group, leading to another stopping point.
Fast-forward to 2012: After years writing and recording on weeknights and weekends, JC Jordan and The Way are primed to let the world hear the raw emotion and fluid skills that they've been honing since starting sessions for Between the Shadow back in 2008. Jordan's voice - a mixture of Lenny Kravitz's swagger and Seal's intellectual musings - as well as the music is always poignant but never showboats, choosing to perform for the song rather than attempting distract one with pompous flash. The music on Between the Shadow is as varied as the emotions that helped shape it. Tracks like "Lookin' Out" give soulful nods to Motown and blues-rock, while "Once Upon A Time" give a more mystic, gut-wrenching feel. "Who Am I?" is a gentle, sweeping example of gleaming pop songwriting, and when on the same record as the bouncy "Deliverance" and the hypnotic "Find A Ride," makes for a unique spiral of influences, including prog-rock, funk and classical. In Chicago's sometimes rigid scene of sub-genres and cliques, JC Jordan ensures that there's something for everyone here.