Review – “Repentance” – Jordan Klassen

repentancereviewed by Michael Thomas

It was a longer-than-expected wait for Repentance after the beautifully-crafted EP Kindness released early last year. But like fellow Nevado Records band Royal Canoe, the full-length is most definitely worth the wait.

Jordan Klassen is the very picture of quiet confidence. A multi-instrumentalist with a rich and expressive voice, he always appears to be in full command as an orchestra’s worth of music backs him up. It would be a challenge to name every instrument that plays in a single song; everything from pianos to strings to ukuleles to guitars can appear in the space of just four minutes.

Those who listened to last year’s EP should already be familiar with two of the tracks. The mid-album “Go To Me” remains a highlight of the album, starting off with gentle ukulele and Klassen’s vocals before exploding into a powerful chorus. The album closer is “I Am A Collector,” a much quieter song in contrast, but Klassen’s emotional delivery of the chorus makes it no less gripping.

The extra vocals on this album might give listeners the sense of intruding on something sacred. The first sound to be heard in the album, in “Sweet Chariot,” is that of a glockenspiel accompanied by a vocalizing choir. By the time Klassen joins in with a reference to the classic spiritual the song gets its title from, the melody has swelled to new heights with a flurry of strings. “One Thousand Parasailors” will not feature any real lyrics, but plenty of vocalizations, giving it the feeling of a church choir spiritual. Better yet, it boasts string arrangements by Friendly Friend band member Colin Nealis.

While so far one might get the impression that the album is full of gentle but emotional tunes, one can get a real sense of urgency from songs like “Piano Brother” or “Strengthen Me With Raisins.” The former features (naturally) a piano, but there is also a guitar focus that makes the song a little louder.

Klassen is at his most thrilling in songs where the musical background is constantly shifting. Perhaps the best song on the album is “The Horses Are Stuck,” starting gently and later bringing in full gang vocals, picked strings and so much more. It gravitates between delicateness and power with grace. Another highlight is “Balcony,” featuring even more vocalizations, banjo backings and subtle but vital strings.

However you want to categorize it, Repentance is a quiet triumph. The album will be released September 24, 2013.

Top Tracks: “The Horses Are Stuck”; “Go To Me”; “Balcony”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*

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