REVIEW: Jordan Tice’s “Motivational Speakeasy” Explores Spontaneity in Music


Jordan Tice – Motivational Speakeasy

An LP that is a solo simply sustained by vocals & a well-worn Collings acoustic guitar (a guitar also played by Emmylou Harris, Pete Townsend, John Fogerty, Joni Mitchell & Keith Richards). Jordan Tice explores the spontaneity in music, the process of invention & creativity.

Tice’s touchstones are all inventive masters such as the late country-blues legend Mississippi John Hurt, John Hartford & John Fahey. Along with Leo Kottke, David Bromberg, Norman Blake with the songwriting prowess of Bob Dylan & John Prine.

Tice is about expressing oneself through music & not simply by playing to impress. He injects eccentricity, humor & sardonic nostalgia. Quite a bill despite the stripped-back approach.

Motivational Speakeasy (released Sept 25 – Padiddle Records) is a collection of 11-cuts with authenticity & musical flavors prowling through vivid finger-style guitar playing. Applied to well-articulated melodies.

Admirers of Kottke & Fahey will instantly enjoy the construction of the music & fans of well-written lyrics sung in a classic John Hartford style will come way smiling. Tice has a warm deep voice itself is almost as powerful in tone & gratifying as folk legend Fred Neil. Many times, there are wonderful LPs by accomplished acoustic & electric guitarists whose only fault lies in their weak vocals (Roy Buchanan). Roy, however, had a style that made up for his thin voice.

Recorded in Nashville it lacks commercial & candy-coated pop ingredients that seem to be part of Nashville prominent today. It’s what grows out of the music dirt. Not so with Jordan Tice. His is firmly rooted in more traditional, genuine & musically exceptional soil. There are many tunes singularly catchy & with an element of evocative strains.

“Walkin’” is Hartford in tradition with its fast-talking blues & engaging singing. Hard to believe this came to Tice as he walked the streets of New York City. But that’s what inspiration is. Is this old hat? Yeah, a bit. But there are human ears that thrive on this mostly rural organic showcase. While the performance is stripped down it’s not spare. There’s substance. There’s no muscle but it has flexibility. It will appeal more to ears than feet.

Fortunately, nothing sounds redundant. Each is a piece unto itself. “Creation’s Done,” “Ready to Go,” & “Goin’ on Down,” all possess clarity & proficiency. Tice is a musician who’ll get lost in the fray of radio. If lucky some college radio will slip a Tice tune on late at night to the joy of listeners looking for something that has complexity based on beauty.

Maybe the only criticism I have is that Jordan should lay down some melodies of his own with a more vintage tinge: “Desperate Man Blues,” (John Fahey). Other than that, Tice is on the right track – encapsulating so many respected guitarists & songwriters.

Produced by Kenneth Pattengale the 33-minute CD is available at &

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