Let’s get this out of the way from the get-go. Dave Jordan has crafted a great album; perhaps the best of his long career as one of New Orleans’ foremost roots-rockers. Filled with songs with adult themes like loss, lost love and regret, Burning Sage is a powerful statement from a mature songwriter not afraid to expose powerful emotions. From the album’s lead cut, “Lying to Myself” to the final note of hope on “Bird on a Wire,” Jordan offers eight songs (including one cover) filled with forthright, wistful and reflective lyrics like, “To me, you was the one who got away—and to you, I was the one who couldn’t stay” and “I can’t tell you what I’m looking for, but baby I can tell you what I’ve found.”
Jordan has always been a great live performer going back to his days playing bass in the seminal jam band Juice. But like the work of many of his musical heroes, an album is not necessarily the same beast as a show. On this record, the nuances of his lyrics as well as the expressiveness of his voice, which can be buried when the band is rocking, shine.
Every song on this album is a world in and of itself, but they all fit together into a cohesive whole, which is a testament to Jordan’s vision. The lone cover, Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend” fits so well in the overall tone of the album that it could be one of the originals, as it speaks to the sentiments Jordan conveys.
Credit for the killer production that just gets better and better on repeat listening has to go the co-producer and engineer Jeff Watkins. Watkins is also responsible for the horn arrangements, which add another element to a sound that is filled out, yet filled with spaces.