Silhouette of Steel
Jordan Umbach doesn't seem to quite fit his music, but that's not a bad thing. The Washington, Pa., native is only 19, but you'd never guess by listening to his second album, Silhouette of Steel. His music sounds much more cultivated and mature than you'd expect from such a young singer-songwriter -- more a Bob Dylan than a Justin Bieber.
He shows a lot of promise. His lyrics are poetic and feel deep and meaningful over his folky guitar and harmonica parts. Though it's easiest to compare his music to Dylan, his voice is lower and not so hoarse, swinging a little closer to Bruce Springsteen.
Besides his mature music and lyrics, Umbach seems also unusually connected to his hometown for such a young songwriter. It's a little odd to hear him giving little shout-outs to Western Pa., in lines like "One sad day I got a note / and a plane ticket back to Pa.," where'd you usually hear states like Tennessee or Kentucky. But such references are more likely to connect local audiences than jar them.
Overall, Silhouette of Steel is a truly impressive album. The songs feel very rounded and complete, with a refreshing sense of honesty. Highlights include "Marie," "Burnin' Churches" and the album's title track.
The only question for Umbach is, who is his audience? He plays music from a former generation for a contemporary crowd. Despite his music's older roots, it's a pretty accessible album, and his youth and talent seem to bridge the gap.