Jordan Kolton,
When the Hammer Drops
(self-produced, 2003)

"Subtle" is the best description for Jordan Kolton's When the Hammer Drops. This is a comfortable melange of smooth vocals, even instrumental flow and a steady pace. Kolton's debut album is a pleasant collection of original songs that shows his talents are evenly distributed among vocals, guitar and songwriting.

On the vocal end, Kolton provides a gentle tenor throughout most of the album, infrequently breaking that soft tone for an emotional impact. An example is "Are You Here?" The somber mood is set by a love lost, but builds up energy to a climactic rooftop outburst as the singer realizes that this love was never returned.

Concerning the instrumental sound, Kolton's guitar is infused into each song's formation as an integral part of the whole, whether it's in the background or sets the pace. For instance, in "Livin' for Today," the strong staccato of the guitar sets up the stepping scheme for the song. The guitar is followed by Kolton's vocals and then combined with Andrew Lynch's vocals and builds into a convergence of many instruments. There's even an interesting background sound that's listed in the CD jacket as a "gonga" by Josh Hurwitz. I've never heard of it, but I know I like it.

Nice on vocals and good on guitar -- Kolton's no slouch on the songwriting end, either. The pace and tone of the songs lean on the mellow side (for the most part). The lyrics avoid complexity while sustaining an underlying message. Again, it's the whole subtlety thing in action.

Subtlety is a lost art. Too many confuse the concept of subtlety with being boring. Instead of focusing on the craft and refining it, many artists take the flashy route, using an all-out assault on the senses for instantaneous attention. Thankfully, Jordan Kolton opts for a simple and subtle approach to display his true talents. Kolton's debut album, When the Hammer Drops, has subtlety on its side as it eases through your ears into your mind providing a comfortable and welcome sound.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 17 April 2004