Jordan Merrick is no stranger to release day, having a library of singles & EPs under his belt. His debut 2019 album Night Music ventured into the darkness of blues, folk, rock, country and even Vaudeville. It featured big layers & arrangements, and since then he experimented with more sparse, humble sounds which focus on his poetics and storytelling. Now, he has returned from the Nine Circles of Delve with another burly big-sound offering, this time with a full-fledged case of the blues. Waiting Blues is his second album, and this one comes with a hellhound yappin' at your heels. Releasing on the 5th of November, Waiting Blues features previously released single 'Lonelier Than You,' and the titular feature-single 'The Waiting Blues,' only recently descending on October 1st.
The album sounds like Robert Johnson shaking hands with Tom Waits' live performance of 'Heart Attack and Vine' - smoky, gutteral vocals and lovelorn poignancy. It's the cigarette you put on your friend's coffin, "This one's for you, Little Timmy." Casting our nets and catching this blues behemoth, we were able to scrape Jordan Merrick's noggin on the upcoming album & how the music took shape:
Previously we’ve seen hints of folk & country, but ‘Waiting Blues’ takes us straight down to the crossroads and fully embraces the blues. Was there a conscious choice to do so with this album, or did the songs guide you and lead you here?
It’s all organic. The beauty of the initial lockdown was having time to jump straight in and record the songs as I wrote them – it was very much the channelling of feelings at the time, giving life to these songs and allowing the music to take shape however they deemed fit – I was simply there to capture the moment more than anything.
Do you think we will see more stuff like this from you moving forward, or will you keep your genres and possibilities open, and keep experimenting?
The thing I’ve always loved about song-writing is letting the song find its direction organically. Similar to what a director is to film – one day they direct a comedy, the next a thriller - let the songs tell you what sounds and stories they ought to be and go out and do it.
I think some artists can be afraid of the unknown in a sense.
“If I step out of folk and sing the blues, what will my fans think?”
In the end, I think you just need to be honest and true to yourself and make the music come alive organically.
All of the songs are very personal, and deal with themes such as love lost & isolation in the current world climate. Could you tell us what inspired you during the production of this album and what sort of things were going on in your life and the feelings you were going through during that time?
I think the biggest inspiration was the great unknown. Here we are in a world that has dramatically changed from one day to the next – a pandemic effecting all 8 billion of us – and there I was sitting at home wondering how my life was about to change.
Outside of a few – the songs were written during the lockdown throughout different times in the year. There was Toowong – written while listening to a neighbour mow his lawn and pondering what the fuck was happening in the world.
The Mob Song was a fictional escape after one too many spaghetti westerns (if there is such a thing!).
The Waiting Blues was written one cold winters night on the back porch, looking out at the streetlights across the road.
There was magic in the tragedy of the pandemic – the songs were just little glimmers of that.
As for the production – it was the first time I’d ever tackled an entire album on my own. I’d done a few folk tracks the previous year, but to take on most of the recording myself was an immense challenge, but incredibly rewarding. There was something special about diving into unfamiliar waters – I’m just glad what came up for air wasn’t terrible! Cody McWaters mixed the album and did an incredible job.
I’ve seen all your ‘Stories From House Arrest’ segments & your digital live gigs on YouTube. Could you flesh out what your experience was like this year and last for the readers? What are your thoughts on the music industry currently, and what advice would you give to up-and-coming musicians during these strange times?
If I had to sum the past year and a half up in one word it would be ‘experimental’. I’ve done everything from livestreams, podcasts, self-recorded albums and learned video editing. I’ve taken up hiking and started intermittent fasting. I’ve watched too many TV shows to count and joined the board of directors of a national mental health music charity (Listen Up Music).
All things I probably wouldn’t have done (or at least, not devoted so much time to so fast) if it weren’t for the pandemic. I feel very fortunate that I had a roof over my head and the means to try the above. It wasn’t always easy – both mentally and physically, but it was the time to experiment – at least for me.
As for advice – the best advice there is to give to anyone is look after yourself. Give yourself the mental and physical nourishment you need. There will be hard days, but they aren’t forever.
There is no shame in reaching out for help when you need it. If you break your leg, you don’t feel embarrassed about seeing a doctor. If you hurt your mind, you should feel no shame in speaking to someone – be it a doctor, family member or friend. Everything else counts for naught in comparison to our mental and physical health.
I’d love to feel the raw power of your songs live. Will you be promoting this upcoming release with any live shows & gigs?
I cannot wait till’ I can tour these songs around Australia. I have so much love for the different cities I’ve been able to visit and play. Alas, until I can hit the road once again, I’ll be playing The Bearded Lady (Brisbane) on November 5th (the same day as the album goes live!). The Beardo has been a huge supporter of musicians in the past year and am so honoured to launch my album there!
Moving into the future, what are your plans going from this year into next? Are you working on any other songs, or can we expect any new releases, videos or shows? We can’t wait to see what you do next!
Following the album’s release, I am going to take time to think about what I want to do in 2022. If the past year and a half has taught me anything, it’s that no day should be wasted and to never take time for granted. There is plenty I want to do and the wheels are in motion. As for what’s next? Let’s wait and see!
Before the Waiting Blues album can scratch at your door, you can roll the bones and listen to the single here:
Don't forget to cast a shadow on the Vulture x Boundary st crossroads on November 5th and jaunt down to the album launch at The Bearded Lady:
Jordan Merrick 'Waiting List Blues' Album Launch
Friday, 5th November - The Bearded Lady (West End, Brisbane)