Hot New Country: Jordan McIntosh & David James

by Roman Mitz, Open Spaces
It’s nice to have friends in high places. For Jordan McIntosh that friend comes in the form of George Canyon, the veteran Canadian country star who has made a career of turning out gold records. For Jordan, who has just released his debut album ‘Steal Your Heart’, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
“About a year ago George decided he wanted to take a new artist under his wing,” says the Ottawa-area native, checking in during a promotional stop in Toronto. “He wanted to teach a young performer everything that he knew and I was lucky enough to be the one he chose. George has been around the bend and back and he has so much to give in terms of knowledge and wisdom about the industry. He co-produced four of the tracks on the album, and it was a really important learning experience for me.”
Jordan doesn’t just ride Canyon’s coattails, however, as he proves himself to be a formidable writer, having penned half of the songs on the album. The title track and new single boasts a grabby chorus which seems perfectly tailored for radio.
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“It’s great if it turns out that way because I don’t write songs specifically for radio,” he says. “I write for myself and what I think the fans will connect with most. I write music to help understand a situation better so it’s almost therapeutic. The more personal you are with your music, the more people will associate with it and want to share it with their friends.”
One of the more traditional tunes on the album is ‘That Girl’, a classic hurtin’ song about a guy that does a girl wrong. Jordan cut his teeth early on listening to the likes of Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam and George Strait, so he has a solid country foundation. His exposure to pop music came via his sister’s record purchases, which included the Spice Girls and Britney Spears. Does this mean he’ll be including a Britney cover as part of his stage show?
“You never know, maybe a country version of ‘Oops I Did It Again’ might work,” he jokes. “As far as pop goes, there is a One Direction song, ‘Story Of My Life’ on the album. I covered it at my shows because the majority of my fans are young and I knew they would enjoy hearing it. When I went on the road with George Canyon in the fall of 2014, he wanted to do a song with me at the end of the show and that was the one we chose. We did that number and ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ so it was, like, a song from my generation and a song from his. At the end of the tour we decided to go into the studio and record Story Of my Life as a duet.”
The album includes a couple of raucous tunes, ‘Cold Outside’ and ‘While We’re Young’ both bolstered by some serious power chording. When the dust settles, however, Jordan chooses to close the album with the poignant ‘Dare You To Try’.
“I never thought that I would have a record deal and be putting out albums but you have to take chances, and that’s what that song is all about” he says. “You might fail, but if you don’t try you’ll never know. I liked the idea of that being the last song people heard so they walk away from the record with a message.”
Look for Jordan on the summer festival circuit and on a pending tour, details of which are to be confirmed.
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If there’s one word that best describes David James it has to be determination as the Winnipeg native’s new EP, ‘Songs About A Girl’, was three years in the making. No, it’s not that David is a procrastinator or slow worker, it’s just that he was very meticulous about the songs he wanted to include on the final product.
“These songs are very important to me,” he says. “They carry aspects of the human experience we all share – love, passion, perseverance, and really laying it all on the line for those you care about. Recording this album has been a long journey but I wanted to make sure we got the songs right. I couldn’t be more proud of the record and everybody who worked on it.”
Songs About A Girl has a very obvious common thread, as David sings about the highs and lows of being in a relationship. On ‘The One I Always Wanted’ he rhymes off the loves of his life, starting with a car, then a guitar and finally his main squeeze. The power ballad ‘Lay It On Me’ sends the album soaring, and makes for a nice companion piece to the more reflective ‘Starts With A Girl’.
“It’s all just honest, raw music that’s intended to connect with people. I tend to gravitate to songs about love. The record is pretty deep and I think people are hungry for that. I love the raw emotive human drive conveyed in Lay It On Me and that’s precisely why it’s on this record.”
Things didn’t start off that well for David when he set off on his musical journey. At age 14 he gave an impassioned performance of Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ at his junior high school’s Canadian Idol competition and came in nearly dead last. He’s come a long way since that time as his latest single, ‘Lonely Girl’, runs the emotional gamut from bleakness to bliss.
“I think we all have those days when we don’t feel our best. There are times when we’re down on ourselves, but at the end of the day everyone deserves to be loved because they have so much to offer. Although the song is intended to deliver that message, the number is upbeat and especially fun to play live.”
For a chance to hear this song and his other stellar numbers you can catch David on his upcoming tour which includes his August appearance at the Boots & Hearts Festival near Barrie.

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