Jordan Mackampa – Foreigner
Soul | Pop
Writing a record that is rooted in self-reflection can be one of the most difficult musical endeavours for an artist to undertake. Everyone says that you should write what you know, so it stands to reason that writing about yourself should come naturally, but how well do we really know ourselves? How well acquainted are you with the inner conflicts raging within your mind? Can you chart a path through all the events and outside influences that have informed you as a person over the years? Can you truly pin down all the traits and ideals that define who you are? Even if the answer is yes and you have a strong sense of who you are and what led you to this point, that’s only the first step. From there you still need the eloquence to get it all down in song form, and the courage to share it with the world.
In this respect, Jordan Mackampa’s debut album is a triumph. Introspective and articulate, it paints an intimate picture of the man behind the music. A portrait of a man who loves freely and deeply. We see this in the passing infatuations to falling head over heels in ‘Under’ and ‘Love At First Sight’, the strength of familial bonds in ‘Care For Your Mother’, and his willingness to love others who are struggling to love themselves in ‘Tight’. Moreover we see the hurt that lingers from people taking advantage of his predisposition for caring and compassion in tracks like ‘Parachutes’ and ‘Warning Signs’.
Foreigner is like the mirror image of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’, where instead of turning his artistic lens outwards to the failings of the wider world he instead looks inwards to shed a light on who he is and who he wants to be. Even the instances that question bigger problems in society are framed in a very personal way. ‘What Am I’ reflects on what an individual can do to help build a better world when everything around you seems to be falling apart. The stunning title track ‘Foreigner’ not only deals with the societal stigma and alienation that comes with the term, but also the inner conflict that comes with having two warring identities within yourself and not fully relating to either of them.
Jordan’s songwriting is raw and real, his soulful vocals warm and welcoming. Musically the arrangements found on Foreigner strike a balance between refined and restrained. Most of the time this understated approach works wonders, though a few tracks could certainly have benefited from being fleshed out ever so slightly. Really the album’s only major misstep is the opening track ‘Magic’ which doesn’t really fit with the rest of record. Its samba inspired party atmosphere feels very out of place on such an otherwise introspective album. Beyond that, while Jordan’s songwriting excels in the verses, he struggles somewhat in the choruses when it comes to penning a good hook, leaning a bit too heavily on repetition. Hopefully this is something that we will see improve with future releases, but otherwise this is an assured an accomplished debut. He leaves nothing out, you really get a sense that this is a musical self portrait. And while it doesn’t shy away flaws and faults, the picture I’m left with is of a man with a heart as golden as his voice. Just the kind of artist the world needs more of, just the kind of artist this site was made for in the first place.