The Great Lands Release EP

Atlanta’s Jordan Asher Armstrong’s rebranding as The Great Lands steers the singer/songwriter in a Neil Young/Bob Dylan-inspired direction. Open ears, however, will hear strands and smatterings of other voices as well. The Great Lands is far from a tribute act or imitation, however, and the proof is where it should be. In the songs. 1400 Piedmont, the first of two EP releases due to become widely available over the next few months, attests to this.

Armstrong’s instincts are honed to such an extent that he steers a venerable, and in some people’s opinion long ago exhausted, vehicle such as guitar rock with style and improbable freshness. Both derive their strength from his skill with words and the energy he brings to his performances. Energies are unique, like a fingerprint. There are similarities but no two are exactly alike.

It’s not hard to imagine the events of recent years set Armstrong on fire for the album opener. “Down the Line” has a merciless observational quality, it misses nothing and faces down its adult themes with an unblinking eye. Hard-charging electric guitar maintains a much more sustained attack during the opener than elsewhere though Armstrong is never shy about exploring its potential.

The best song for many listeners will be the second track “Except Maybe Sometimes”. It isn’t the only example on 1400 Piedmont of The Great Lands reaching a perfect accord between their rock and singer/songwriter sensibilities but arguably the best example. Added attention to the vocals broadens the song’s dimensions as well. His voice isn’t conventionally attractive but his phrasing and emotive powers are beyond dispute.


“Jumper” has a rawness surrounding both the writing and playing that pulls you into its experience. Armstrong structures the song quite well and provides himself with tasteful spot-lit moments that underline his emotion. The EP’s next single “Lonely Houses” will find a receptive audience for several reasons. Its greatest appeal will come from the lyric’s conversational poetry and its relatability. Many listeners know these houses and uncomfortable nights alone.

If you make it this far, it is impossible to not love “One More Night (Queen)”. The EP’s first single introduces a vision for listeners of The Great Lands that emphasize their significance without being ham-fisted about it. Let your humble reviewer know if you hear any pretentiousness in these five songs. Self-indulgence, even during this dramatic closer, is at an enviable low and, at its heart, it celebrates life, even in its pain.

Emerging with a song collection such as this after two years and counting of a global pandemic and the death of a loved parent testifies to Armstrong’s belief that art offers an avenue toward a better tomorrow. That’s what you hear during The Great Lands’ 1400 Piedmont. It is an artist purging themselves of the past as much as possible and clearing their road ahead. The songs are intensely personal, without question, but never obscure and the EP is his musical invitation to accompany him on the journey ahead. You will not regret accepting it.

Cleopatra Patel

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