Jordannah Elizabeth

Jordannah Elizabeth has lived in and out of the Bay Area for a couple years now. She currently lives in Baltimore, is in San Francisco as I write, and will back in Baltimore shortly after this is published — she’s here to play two shows, give a lecture, then back again. And amid the shuffle she’s released two songs, “The Requiem/The Water” and “Didn’t Play It feat. Dave Heumann.”

The Warmest Low (Single One) is her newest release and earliest glimpse at her forthcoming album, The Warmest Low, a project she also plans to release in the form of a chapter book, a nonfiction surrealist love story. Insofar as a release date, Elizabeth said it “will take place after 2,249,000 heart beats.”

I do not know very much about Elizabeth’s other than what I’ve gleaned from her songs, watching her perform, and a very brief conversation, but as an artist, she seems held together by a deliberate gravity. She’s lived between Baltimore and the Bay Area for three years. She writes and talks about music. As she’s gotten older, she’s tended towards simple arrangements. The Warmest Low (Single One) was mixed by Jana Hunter, a friend from Baltimore and Lower Dens.

The first song, “The Requiem/The Water” is a loose interpretation of “100,” a The Game song featuring Drake. It’s a subdued song in ways, with simple guitar and a soft reverb on the voice. On the one hand it relaxes, but on the other hand it’s decidedly unambivalent — a song that’s clear-cut and decided. “Don’t come to my studio or my funeral with no fake shit.” And to sing about the studio and tombstone in the same breath implies and describes a vital degree of cohesion, a ready and unified vision of art and life, seen through and well worth preserving.

The second song, “Didn’t Play It feat. Dave Heumann” sprung into Elizabeth’s head on a walk. She stopped the walk to record the melody on her phone. She imagined a duet, in the vein of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra. Where was the melody just before it found her? Was it just out of reach, readying for the right moment or final tweak? At one of her shows last week, she told the audience she plays soul music, and even half-joked about all the other bullshit. It makes sense to me that she’d be so quick to record the initial spark, that first impact, on her phone. Jordannah Elizabeth and her soul music are feelings delivered.

If you want more from her, look into attending A Rumination of Black Experimental Musica lecture she’s giving on the nature and history of Black experimental music, in and out of context with white counterparts. She’s also recently published an anthology chronicling some of her written work called Don’t Lose Track Vol. 1: 40 Selected Articles, Essays and Q&As.

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