Jordan Mayland: The Color of My Soul (Birdroom Studio) Review

One of the fun things about following Jordan Mayland’s musical trajectory is that the guy has covered virtually every genre of music out there at some point, so you never quite know what he’ll pull out next. Is he in indie rock mode, with varying degrees of punk sprinkled in, like he does with Keepers Of The Carpet, The Wheelers, or the Volcano Boys? Is he dabbling with beats and/or electronics, like he does with Electronidoll or TIRES? Or some other permutation or combination of other projects he’s involved with?

In recent years, Mayland has spent time putting together his own home studio, the Birdroom, and getting some hands-on experience using it, releasing various solo and demo recordings, as well as his excellent “In The Birdroom” podcast that he produces for the Des Moines Music Coalition. And, for the last three years, Mayland has been working on the tracks that have culminated in his newest solo album, The Color Of My Soul, on which he played every instrument, in a dizzying array of songs that mostly tend towards a blend of soft, layered synths, psychedelia, and his own unique brand of pop.

Lead single “Dark Sun Of The Sun” does a good job of setting the tone for the record, managing to stride the line between the epic and the fun, incorporating some production that wouldn’t be out of place on a Tame Impala record, but then throwing in a breakout guitar section straight out of Sigur Ros. And it all seems to work together somehow.

And the guy really knows how to write and produce a bridge. At some point in nearly all of the songs on The Color Of My Soul, you’ll find yourself wondering, “Wait, how did I get here?” In the best possible way. From the Spanish horns in the middle of “Monotony” to the more traditional horn break of “Where I Would Go” or the funky bassline with layered freaking banjo parts of “Cosmogonic,” it sort of becomes a game of “well, what will he do next?”

At the heart of things, though, Mayland is also a traditionalist as a songwriter, so, on the other sides of the berzerk middle of a song like “Jared Lincoln,” you get a classic piano song structure, and “Growing Up and Growing Old” is pure Beatles-esque pop candy.

Most of all, you can hear just how much fun Jordan Mayland is having, playing anything he wants to, and twiddling the knobs to see what happens, making an album that takes some chances, while not experimenting so much that things get wobbly. More adventurous listeners will enjoy the production and arrangement of the songs on the album, probably on headphones, but if you’re in search of some solidly crafted pop tunes, you’ll have some choruses to sing along to on The Color Of My Soul.

Bryon Dudley
Bryon Dudley is a writer and musician from Ames. He has written about music and other topics for a number of local publications and blogs. When not playing music and putting out albums with groups such as Strong Like Bear, Liana, and Rockets of Desire, he is helping other Iowa artists record their music at his studio, The Spacement, and releasing it on the Iowa label he co-founded, Nova Labs. He has a tattoo of an aardvark and is adjusting to bifocals.