Some people will say that "Chill" is to be best consumed in pill form, others think that the chill is gone. However, 24 year old Jazz merchant Gordon Robertson does not subscribe to such nonsense. The east coast singer songwriter releases his single "Vodka Lemon Lime" on the 27th of July and it sets a pretty solid benchmark to define "Chilled".
There's not any time for messing about at the start of this track, but you are eased into things. Firstly you'll only hear an acoustic guitar backing up Gordon's voice. The guitar playing a lovely jazz progression, very reminiscent of some classic swing pieces. This is all before the rhythm section come in to fill the space with a reggae groove. I'm not an expert on Edinburgh jazz by any means but I didn't expect that. I think most listeners would be surprised by the reggae/swing alliance here. It's a bassline with enough space between phrases, it's a guitar playing upstrokes on the accents, and it's the drums reigning in the beat on the hi hats. In fact, like me, some listeners will probably be more surprised at how well they work together. It's truly seamless. This isn't two different tunes, it's the one and it's not jarring or off-putting in any way.
I found I couldn't help but pay attention to the tunes lyrics here as well. Within a few bars you know the story the song is telling. A familiar tale of two people meeting for the first time and enjoying a tall drink together, one of them takes a quick liking to the other and starts panicking because they want to tell them. And, no, it's not unique as far as lyrical themes go, but it is told well and I found it captivating. Robertson does very well to translate the feeling of optimistic anxiety into the lyrics. I found phrases such as this to be very memorable;
To me it's an example of an internal monologue that everyone will have known at some point, I found it particularly relatable. I am a fiend for the old arm touching though.
The chorus of "Vodka Lemon Lime" leaves the reggae traits behind and commits to the smooth swing vibe. The vocals continuing to rise and fall and rise very smoothly throughout. The vocal melody itself like a wave, with the listener unable to spot exactly where it begins to rise, when it starts to dip and when it breaks on the shore. (I should clarify thought the song conjures images of a summer evening in The Bahamas rather than the healthy brown glow of Brassie beach in winter). The backing vocals in this sections (simple but effective oohs and aahs) give the track a feel that reminds me of Buble or Timberlake. I dare say for those out there who are looking for the Buble vibe in a local venue should keep an eye out for Gordon's touring schedule. And with over 100 live performances last year alone, it's likely you'll get to see him soon enough.
The song doesn't hold any more surprises by the time you get half way through. It very much continues as you would expect, taking wee influences from classic jazz and dancing them around modern crooner pop. (I'm not sure if crooner-pop is the preferred phrase used in the industry, but I'm sure it gives an accurate idea of the sound.) There is an instrumental with a tight guitar solo worth mentioning however. As a musician he really understands his genre. To the extent I would say that if the track wasn't as well produced I would almost mistake it for an old jazz standard sung by a modern pop peddler. Gordon is a skilled instrumentalist too, so it's no surprise that along side the lyrics and the vocal performance, the instrumental work also deserves recognition. It is his voice that gets Mr Robertson a lot of praise however. In fact this compliment;
was payed to Gordon by Edele, of B*Witched, and Jackie Jackson, of The Jacksons. And let me tell you Jackie Jackson is not the Jackson to argue with.
"Vodka Lemon Lime" will be the first of a string of singles Gordon Robertson is set to release with his new label. It broke out of the barn for your listening pleasure on the 27th of July 2018. On the day of release the man himself was on stage at Butefest. Click the links below to follow Gordon Robertson on the old social media and keep up to date with the release.