by Joseph Scott
How can this guy be twenty years old? That’s the first question that pops to mind when listening to guitarist Jordan Tice’s new Patuxent Music release, Long Story. Not just because of the picking, in this day and age there is many a twenty year old that can pick. It comes in the realization that this young man wrote all these tunes, and that they express an emotion, be it wistfulness, mournfulness, or elation, that suggests he has lived far more life than his twenty years could allow.
The first sign of Mr. Tice’s musical maturity is that he managed to write and record a guitar record that doesn’t sound like a guitar record. Instead of a lot of “dig me” breaks and licks, Jordan instead chose to write and arrange tunes that allow the cadre of like-minded musicians joining him to sound like an integrated whole rather than an all-star jam. Be it Andy Hall’s dobro (sounding a lot like a young Jerry Douglas, which is about as good as a dobro can sound) carrying the day on the locomotive opener, “Locust Point”, or fiddler Casey Driessen’s rousing kick on the joyous “Sofia”, Tice always leaves room for his counterparts to shine, secure in the knowledge that the tunes, his tunes, are the real stars.
How can one so young write a tune as lonesome as “Song For Leslie”? Joined by his mother Sue Tice on fiddle, young Mr. Tice paints us a picture of exquisite heartbreak. Then he tells us the rest of the story with the resolute “Coming To Life”. One would think Jordan is looking back to the good old days in the wistful “Salad Days”, until one remembers that he hasn’t had any old days yet, good or bad.
Mr. Tice went out and got the best musicians Maryland has to offer to make Long Story. Besides the aforementioned, Jordan is joined by Mark Schatz on bass (who also provides hambone on “Sofia”), banjoist Noam Pikelny, and mandolinist Mark Macglashian. So any fan of virtuoso bluegrass picking will surely love this record. Make no mistake though, the star here is Jordan Tice and his compelling sense of melody.