"I'm ready for something different," Jordan Whitmore sings during the first minute of Good Things, a record that merges together the sounds of her past — from the indie-pop of the Fondly EP to the Americana of Other Side — to create its own eclectic brand of rootsy pop/Americana.
Now five records into her career, Whitmore has maintained her artistic independence while racking up a list of accolades. Her sharply-written songs have been finalists at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and award-winners at the National Unplugged Songwriting Contest. They've told the story of her life, too, serving as the soundtrack for the heartaches, hard roads and happy moments of an adulthood often spent onstage and in the writing room. With Good Things, she brings that sound full circle, touching upon the melody-heavy chops that helped launch her career while also pushing into unexplored territory. From the '90s-influenced guitars and dark, deep vocals of "All My Might" to the Sheryl Crow-worthy "Something Different," Good Things casts its net wide, heralding the changing seasons in Whitmore's life with a bolder, broader sound.
Years earlier, when she left Austin and moved to the small town of Granbury, Texas, Whitmore wasn't only leaving the place she'd called home throughout adulthood. She was leaving the city where she'd launched her career. For years, Austin had been her musical headquarters, inspiring the diverse songwriting that filled her records. It also introduced her to producer Brian Douglas Phillips, who produced her 2014 album, Other Side, as well as singles like "Here’s To You" and "I Promise."
Whitmore makes sense of new surroundings with Good Things, an album about changes, challenges, time, and the love that makes it all worthwhile. It's more guitar-driven than Other Side and more diverse than anything else in her catalog. It also finds her working once again with Phillips. Together, they kick things off with "Something Different," mixing heartland rock & roll guitars with bright pop hooks. Things branch out from there. "All My Might" is a warmly woozy love song, while "Changing Your Mind" mixes the sway of a would-be country classic with a Hawaiian swoon worthy of a luau. During the album's final stretch, Whitmore channels the blue notes of homeland hero Gary Clark Jr. on the album's title track, which marks her hardest-hitting rock song to date, then winds things down with "I Wish You Would," a gorgeous ballad that fires twin barrels of melancholy and melody.
"The beauty of being an independent artist is I don't have to follow any rules," says Whitmore. "I can have an indie-pop song followed by a rock song. I can launch a gospel project like I did with Eufala, then come back to my solo project. I can make music influenced by people like Aimee Mann, Shawn Colvin, and Alabama Shakes. It's all me — it's just different aspects of me."
The instrumentation is similarly diverse, full of acoustic guitar, Wurlitzer, pedal steel, organ, baritone guitar, unexpected percussion sounds (including congas on the title track and seashells on "I Wish You Would"), and even pocket piano. Lush and layered, Good Things makes its arrival not long after "I Promise," a single that dealt frankly with Whitmore's struggle with infertility. It's a vulnerable but lovely song, and it paves the way for Good Things, an eclectic EP whose six songs excel at turning heavy source material into something beautiful. Inspired by a difficult season of transition and waiting, Good Things ultimately looks ahead toward brighter horizons. While some of the themes may be weighty, the music itself is buoyantly arranged and brightly performed, with Whitmore remaining honest and hopeful and she approaches a new season. It's time for something for different.