Canadian R&B/hip hop singer JRDN (a.k.a. Jordan Croucher) makes a bid for international stardom with IAMJRDN, his sophomore album. After releasing 2007’s No Dress Code, he shortened his name and changed his lyrical content. On his site, JRDN states that “on the first album, I talked about family and friends and my life. But on this one, I’m talking about the women in my life.” His singing style and heavy beats are reminiscent of Usher, and certain tracks seem tailor-made for Top 40 radio.
The first single, “U Can Have It All,” has garnered attention on Canadian radio and the MuchMusic and MuchVibe channels, eventually becoming a Top Ten single. The bass-heavy beat, along with the infectious chorus, fits in well with contemporary hip-hop. “Like Magic,” perhaps the most Usher-like track on IAMJRDN, recalls “Love in This Club” with its sweeping keyboards and JRDN’s hypnotic vocals. “I Don’t Care” should play well in clubs, with its throbbing tempo and JRDN’s rapid-fire delivery. Similarly, “Forever and A Day” is dance-ready, its swirling keyboard effects never overshadowing his voice.
Another potential hit is “Top It All,” a tender ballad with lyrics suggesting that the singer is ready for a committed relationship. One can imagine JRDN’s sincere performance resounding with younger R&B fans. This should definitely be a single, and could result in JRDN’s international breakthrough.
However, too many tracks rely on thumping beats, rarely departing from the prominent electronic sound dominating current R&B. Some variety, such as including more ballads, would have held the listener’s interest. In addition, pairing him with an innovative producer such as Timbaland or will.i.am could further expand his sound, distinguishing him from the glut of hip hop artists dominating the charts. “All We Need” is a welcome departure, although the bass-heavy beat reverberates throughout the song. Still, the slightly stripped-down production effectively showcases JRDN’s pleasant voice, which harmonizes well with guest vocalist Melanie Fiona.
While the lyrics may not be groundbreaking — the world’s problems can be solved with love — the track contains more sophistication and maturity than IAMJRDN’s other songs. Two tracks, “Crazy” and “Cross the Line,” are tinged with rock guitar accents. More experimentation with such genres would have been welcome, particularly in terms of percussion. IAMJRDN seems designed for blasting through a car’s speakers, but some variety in tone and tempo would have been welcome.
In Canada, JRDN has opened for such acts as Rihanna and Ne Yo — indeed, his music blends in with their hip-hop inflected sound. Similar to those artists, JRDN best targets younger audiences who were reared on R&B and listen to current hits radio. Still, tracks such as “All We Need” hint at maturity, a side he should explore on future albums. Young fans of Usher and Trey Songz may want to check out IAMJRDN and hear a rising R&B artist.