confident1600x1600Jor’Dan Armstrong
SeaQ/Good Guys (release date: January 1, 2016)

By Bob Marovich

Almost immediately after the clock signaled the start of 2016, Jor’Dan Armstrong dropped his six-track EP, Confident, possibly making it the first gospel release of the new year.

The timing is not coincidental. Armstrong has deemed this EP somewhat of a new direction for him. Indeed, while the messaging is just as positive and encouraging as his other releases, such as last year’s lively 25 Days of Summer, the music—from the opening siren strains of “All I Know” to the concluding tones of the evangelistic “So For Real”—is more introspective and atmospheric. Each song links to the next in a seamless, steady roll of ethereal nuance.

Armstrong and producer/comrade TedyP Williams (of the Good Guys) explained that they are intentionally creating secular-sounding music to reach those who are not saved. As such, the duo experiments with ethereal electronic beats, and sometimes with no beat at all. On “Thirsty,” what sounds like a pan-African musical mélange drops out altogether at points during the selection, giving the sensation of free falling until the music starts again.

Confident offers plenty of word play. “Bless Up” uses a common vernacular phrase to riff on the importance of salvation to overcome obstacles. During “Thirsty,” Armstrong sings that if you drink of God’s water, “you’ll never have a thirst day.” “Swish” employs basketball imagery to express Phillipians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me”). If the Caravans sang “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hands” in the late 1950s to encourage the faithful to stay strong despite life’s distractions, Armstrong expresses the same message in 2016 on “Real,” when he repeats the mantra, “Focus on the Real.”

While Stronger remains Jor’Dan Armstrong’s strongest release to date, Confident gives the listener plenty to contemplate.

Three of Five Stars

Pick: “Bless Up.”

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Written by : Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.