U of S musician reaches new heights as a solo rocker

By in Culture

Saskatoon is home to a variety of local musical talent, and one such artist is not only in the process of completing his University of Saskatchewan degree, but also releasing his first solo album.

Jordan Welbourne, who will graduate in June 2016 with a music degree from the U of S, has been a part of the Saskatoon music scene since the early 2010s with the band Misterfire. Welbourne is now releasing a solo album, entitled Reach Out, which will feature six tracks. Three of these are now available for listening on SoundCloud, and the full album will be released on Apr. 29, accompanied by a release party at Village Guitar and Amp Co.

The three tracks currently on SoundCloud are “Rattlesnake Jake,” “Marathon” and the titular “Reach Out.” The album as a whole will appeal to fans of rock and blues, with each track soaked in aggressive electric guitar riffs that harken back to the golden age of rock, accompanied by vocals that complete the gritty sound.

I sat down with Welbourne to discuss Reach Out and his plans for the future. Welbourne went into detail as to what listeners can expect from the other three unreleased songs on the album. The tracks will have something for everyone, including a lighter rock and roll option for his fans of poppier tunes, entitled “Set Me Free.” The album also includes an entirely instrumental song that he co-penned with his producer, Brad Jordan--0063-2Taylor, that Welbourne is thrilled about.

“It’s awesome, it’s kinda like a little homage to [Guns N’ Roses guitarist] Slash and [heavy metal rocker] Lemmy as well too,” Welbourne said. “It’s like a really fast, really hard hitting rock song. Lots of guitar solos.”

Last but not least is “Terrain,” the album’s ballad and, in Welbourne’s opinion, it’s stand-out track.

“[It’s] the departure, it’s definitely the more solemn of the songs, it’s got a lot more emotional impact and with the recording style, it really captures the essence of the song,” Welbourne said. “It’s really raw.”

Following the release of his solo album, Welbourne will be kicking off his first solo tour. He will spend May touring Alberta and Saskatchewan, and then hit British Columbia and Alberta again in June and July. Welbourne also hopes to tour more of the country towards the end of the summer.

When the subject of inspiration came up, Welbourne had trouble attaching a singular genre as a definition for his music.

“Influences, I mean, it’s hard to draw a comparison but I would say that we’re going along the lines of a modern electric blues thing,” Welbourne said.

Newcomers to Welbourne can check out his musical influences to find out more about what to expect from his songs. Welbourne likened his music to that of several other artists’ styles.

“People would like this album if they like Gary Clark Jr., if they like Slash’s music, if they kinda like John Mayer’s stuff too. It’s a little bit grittier than Gary Clark or John Mayer, almost to the lines of a band called Rival Sons; they’re an awesome new rock band as well too,” Welbourne said.

Welbourne also spoke about how the U of S and the music department have both made an impact on him and his work.

“Going to [the U of S] certainly shaped me as a musician and left its mark on me in a really good way. It really challenged me to think outside of what I normally would. My comfort zone is always me playing some sort of guitar and that’s just where I’m at. When that instrument’s with me, I feel it’s easiest to express any sort of musical idea,” he said.

Welbourne believes that his time at the U of S was both challenging and inspirational, helping him to hone the musical style he displays in Reach Out.

“Studying voice — ‘cause I actually studied voice at the university — it just made me think of things in a totally different way. I had to think more about the impact of lyrics, the importance of connecting with the audience and the actual theatrics of doing a stage performance.”

For more information on Welbourne’s album and upcoming tour dates, visit jordanwelbourne.com.

Jack Thompson

Photos: Karen Pidskalny / Supplied