Photography: Katie Ostarly Photography
The early spring morning in March is crisp, the hustle and bustle of downtown Covington is as constant, as grounded, and as reassuring as the look in Jordan Dalton’s eyes. She is serious about her work, this one. This is made apparent the moment she picks up her guitar and starts to play. On the front porch of the downtown vintage shop, she strums a melody that flows from her organically as if this is all she has ever known, the music. She is an old soul, wizened beyond her 26 years by her life experiences and struggles that she recounts in her songwriting. Her dreams are familiar to many artists, to make music her life’s work, but they are also unique to her own story. She is determined to convey a message to her audience; a message of resilience, healing, and hope.
“I picked up the guitar at three,” she starts. “My dad was a musician, I started playing guitar because he played guitar.” As things like this tend to, the journey started early. Perhaps even as early as toddlerhood when the bud of her songwriting abilities began to manifest. Changing with the years of grit she no longer identifies as the country artist of her youth but has since evolved into the indie rocker with the sultry voice singing of lost love, inner demons, and the hope for better days.
She radiates the kind of sincere kindness that accompanies pain. It is an oxymoron of sorts, a firm gentleness that comes with difficult experiences that hopes for better. When she speaks of addiction it is with a straightforward confidence of someone who has been changed through trial. “I guess…through experience of life my music has been molded into something darker. I went through addiction, through the throes of that my music got darker, but coming out of it, it became lighter in a way.” Using the solid foundation of her music to stand upon, Jordan found sobriety. “Music is the only thing I have that has been solid for me,” she says. This is ultimately the purpose she wishes her music to serve for others.
Using her music as a record of the ebbs and flows of life, she seeks to capture the truth of the human experience in her songwriting. “I could be driving down the road and see a person and they’ll give off this vibe and that will inspire me to write.” She is a storyteller, a navigator through the hard times, an artist that captures darkness and transforms it into melodies. Her newest song release, “Wall Art”, tells the story of an ill-fated love connection. It’s about surface level emotions versus the desire for something deeper, and the heartache of unreciprocated feelings. “It was inspired by someone who has felt used and heartbroken,” She explains. “Eventually they end up moving on and the other person wants them back, but it’s over.” She explores these themes of human struggle in her upcoming album “The Rehab Diaries”.
Based in a message of hope, “The Rehab Diaries” is a five-track album recorded with her engineer, Grammy award-winning Jack Miele Productions. “I really wanted to release an album that was for the recovery world, that reaches people that are in recovery. I feel like there’s a lot of music out there that talks about drugs and drug use but there’s not a lot of music that talks about recovery.” A major theme of Jordan’s creative process, she seeks to inspire those that are still fighting for their lives. “If anything, if my music doesn’t take off, I hope it reaches some people that are out there struggling.” A bold and much needed move in a time of isolation.
The inevitability of the discussion of COVID-19 swoops in with a bittersweet note. It is something we’ve now become accustomed to, a little over a year in the “new normal” that has devastated the lives of performers. And yet there is the thriving thread of connection that has kept the creative heart beating through all of this. “Luckily we have the internet,” she says optimistically. “It’s been a great aspect being able to push things through social media. Word of mouth has really been our only method of showing up.” Leaving little in the way of live music, Jordan has braved the local casino circuit playing with her band, Jordan Dalton and the Dalton Gang. “The casinos have been great, but other than that, it’s really been a struggle. The music industry has taken a big hit.” This is the current atmosphere for many artists during this time, a testament that audience loyalty truly is, more than ever, an invaluable gift.
Throughout this time together we’ve been accompanied by Jordan’s mother, Sheryl, her biggest advocate and companion in dream chasing. Her earnest love for her daughter is felt in every small, kind gesture. With a half smile she names her girlfriend Nikki as her rock, and her engineer Jack Miele as a mentor and teacher. “He’s really taken me under his wing. He barely knew me and he just took me in, and showed me the ropes of this business. He pushes me to the next level.” The next level for Jordan looks like touring with her band, and being able to connect with the people who love her music. It is a sorely missed aspect of her career that she hopes to revive in the coming year. “I love networking. I think that’s just the coolest thing is being able to meet different people that share the same love as you do.”
Jordan’s music can be found on Spotify and Apple Music. Her new album, “The Rehab Diaries” drops later this year.