Prime Cuts: The River, Photograph, Satisfied
Jordan is no new kid on the block. Formerly, he has sung lead vocals for the heavy metal band A Current Affair. He has shared stages with many prominent rock artists. But it's only on his debut album for Centricity Records Feliz has found his own voice. It's on this album he feels comfortable enough to stretch himself musically to embrace his own patented pop/folk sound. And it's on this record, we find him comfortable enough to utilize his multiple octave vocals to nuance the variegated emotional shades of his songs' lyrics. "Beloved" finds him working with producers Joshua Silverberg (Michael W. Smith, Audio Adrenaline) and Colby Wedgeworth (Lincoln Brewster, The Maine) on the first 6 tracks of the album. As for the last 4 songs, they have a more stripped down feel and they are helmed by Jared Fox.
"River" is the lead single to be given the charge to introduce Feliz to Christian radio. And as the first ambassador of this record, it has dutifully done a great job as "River" currently sits at #1 on Billboard's Christian Airplay chart. Though "River" has a mainstream pop sound, the earthy lyrics gives the song an infectious organic feel that makes it a standout. Further, the picturesque use of language in its lyrics allows us not only to hear but to "see" the song: "We're goin down to the river/Down to the river/Down to the river to pray/Let's get washed by the water/Washed by the water/and rise up in amazing grace." A worthy follow-up is the worship ballad "Satisfied." Here Feliz bears his soul before God in what is one of the most stunning moments of prayer on this record.
"Simple" lives up to its titular in the sense that the backing is much more sparse. Boasting a lazy beat shuffle that undergirds the song, Feliz marvels at how simple the Gospel is as far as our response is concerned. On the title track "Beloved," Feliz allows himself to soar to great heights across lots of elongated notes on what is a love song to his daughter. Fathers may do well in learning a few lessons from this song. "Rejoice," on the other hand, is a tad more anonymous sounding utilizing a more familiar pop-driven beat that calls to mind MercyMe and All Things New.
The final four songs are called "The Song Sessions." They are by far the best sector of the record. If the original version of "River" hints on Feliz folkier side, the acoustic version indulges us in it. The two covers here are also worthy of mentions. Ed Sheerman's "Photograph" is a superlative example of how imagery can be so effective in a song. With visually descriptive lyrics, the song discusses the trials of a long-distance relationship that really gets to our hearts and our imaginations. NEEDTOBREATHE's recent top 10 "Brother" gets revisited here by Feliz. Somehow the jazzy piano and Feliz's vocal flexibility brings out another quality to this song that is endearing. You can hear in every nuance Feliz love for what he is singing. And when an artist invest his soul and heart into an album, the record immediately has a compelling draw. "Beloved" is a prime example.