On his new CD Jordan Chassan displays a sunny disposition that’s unusual for this country-folk sort of music. Even in a slow, sad song like “A Day Like Today,” there’s a sense of play in the spacious arrangement, the Jimmie Rogers-style melody, the almost pathologically simple solos on organ and guitar, and especially the lyrics. “It’s hard to be blue on a day like today,” Chassan sings, “But I think I can do it.” In the gentle love song “Things Just Do” he proclaims the hopeful side of fatalism: “Sometimes things just don’t work out right, sometimes things just do.” It’s as if the young Townes Van Zandt had gotten hold of some happy pills.
“Wound Up Way Too Tight” is a boppy little tune narrated by a guy searching for relief from insanity. It features Gillian Welch on straight-ahead vocal harmonies, and Chassan’s wonderful Baldwin Organ that gives the CD a chirpy, carnival quality and a tiny flavor of Springsteen. Chassan’s zeal for simplicity goes too far in “Lost Along the Way,” a song that seems to have lost its songitude. But he’s back to form in “Cheater Cheater Cheater,” which could be the bounciest song about betrayal ever written. And that crazy organ returns in “Stranger in a Stranger Land,” a drawling rewrite of The Doors’ “People Are Strange” re-imagined with a dusty highway sensibility.
“Am I Pleasin’ You” encapsulates the reductivist philosophy that underlies many of Chassan’s lyrics. “Situations comes and go/Truth is hard to find/That’s all that you need to know/If you know your own mind.” A deceptively easy task – which may be why, as he notes in the closing song, “It’s hard work bein’ a fool.” Chassan’s witty but heartfelt music speaks truth to the fool in all of us.