Mixing soaring vocals with solid riffs, Lindsey Jordan’s solo project Snail Mail delivers Lush, an aptly named debut record filled with the heartache everyone knows too well. With a high EQ for such a young artist, Jordan packs plenty of feeling into a sleepy delivery and explores teenage heartbreak throughout all ten of the album’s tracks. Her heavenly voice and solid guitar work will perk the ears first, however it’s her songwriting that makes the album whole. Heartache will forever be a staple in indie rock, but few will write such a complete record.
Jordan’s voice and guitar are the first thing to stand out on the record and producer Jake Aron (his engineering credits include Grizzly Bear, Jamie Lidell, and Solange) does a fine job of letting both shine. She will be compared to many women with guitars simply for being a woman with a guitar, but she clearly has a sound all her own. She’s been playing her instrument longer than she hasn’t and her singing voice is as well-honed. At just 19 years old, Matador Records’ youngest-ever signee isn’t far removed from playing house shows in high school in her hometown of Ellicott City, Maryland. Those shows led to her EP Habit in 2016. Lush and a headlining tour weren’t far behind.
On Lush, Jordan has loved big, lost hard, and she’s working through the grief, song after song. Vulnerable throughout but fearlessly continuing on, she captures the key moments in early relationships. Whether it’s the looking-back-in-anger on “Heat Wave,” those gone-but-not-forgotten times on “Pristine,” or the always terrible, we-can-still-be-friends resolution on “Speaking Terms,” Jordan explores mileposts of formative relationships and they echo with familiarity throughout.
Tellingly, lyrics of the first song, “Intro,” reappear on the last, “Anytime,” making for illustrative bookends. While “Intro” is unfocused and hazy, like waking from a midday nap, “Anytime” is cleaned-up and clear-headed, closing the album with, “And I’m not in love with your absence/ ‘Cause I have fallen so hard for the space/ And I’ve gotten to know the quiet and still/ Forgive you anytime/ Still forgive anytime.” This level of growth and insight are usually reserved for thirty-somethings in therapy, not someone a year removed from high school. Jordan’s ability transcends her age while still capturing wide-eyed innocence.
Adolescence is a tough stretch for most, especially when it comes to love, relationships, and breakups. The love is much too intense to describe and those breakups are just too tough to handle. Lush captures the magnitude of it all, and Jordan gives a lovely voice to the significance of those youthful feelings.