[Album Review] Jordan Klassen- Javelin
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Release Date: February 19th, 2016
Label: Nevado Records

It’s not everyday that Vancouver-based indie musicians hunker down in Texas for an extended period of time and record an album, but that’s precisely the way in which Jordan Klassen chose to work on Javelin, his fourth full-length release. At the recommendation of singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow, Klassen took over Sonic Ranch studio near El Paso and came away with 10 tracks for the LP. In a way it’s fitting that Klassen opted to record in the Lone Star state, because he plays nearly every instrument on a multifarious album that should solidify him as one of the best in the business of new age folk music.

Nothing feels out of place on Javelin. Every arrangement and layering of instruments is so finely tuned that even elements like Klassen’s occasionally jarring percussion fills manage to go down smoothly. Most of the songs have a simplistic verse-chorus scheme, but there’s a malleability to them that’s created by all the subtle instrumental variation going on in the background.

Throughout the album, I found myself comparing Javelin to Sufjan Stevens’ 2015 masterpiece Carrie & Lowell. While Stevens’ sound was significantly more stripped down than what Klassen is doing here, his vocals on Javelin emulate Stevens’ remarkable hymn-like singing as well as any other artist I’ve listened to. Klassen seemed to be especially channeling him on “Miles,” delivering the lyrics with the same poetic flow found on a Carrie track like “Should Have Known Better.”

This isn’t to say that the two artists are quite on the same level, but Klassen’s work feels like a clear step above from what a lot of his peers are capable of creating. Plus, his songs stand out in a variety of ways. There’s the beautiful phaser-infused fingerpicking on “No Salesman,” the sweeping ’80s style production on the synth-driven “Light In The Evening,” the soothing balladry of “Delilah,” the rhythmic excitement of album opener “Glory B.” Everywhere you turn on Javelin there’s something new and unique to pick out. The only point at which my interest started to wane a bit was for the seventh track, “St Fraser,” which had a bit too much of a ‘generic indie rock’ vibe for my liking.

Most of the time though, Klassen has you totally engrossed and longing for more. “Gargoyles,” the longest song on the album at 5:28, unfolds under the direction of a semi-muted guitar progression that is perfectly complemented by strings and overdubbed vocals. It’s steady and consistent throughout, but never overstays its welcome. Same goes for “We Got Married,” another long track that does a masterful job of juxtaposing a hazy piano with various  sharp keyboard sounds.

Javelin’s closes out with a tune called “Smoking Too Long.” When the final, emphatic note hits, it’s like coming to the end of a cigarette break; sadly it had to be over at some point, but all you want is to keep the head rush going for as long possible.