Jordan Mackampa: Foreigner
Jordan Mackampa was born in the Republic of Congo, but grew up in London in a single parent household with his mother. When he was 12, he started playing guitar, writing poetry and composing songs. He loved hip-hop, American R&B and the socially conscious lyrics of grime. Songs from his first three EPs have been streamed on Spotify 50 million times and counting. Foreigner is his debut LP, and it’s a keeper. Mackampa’s mellow baritone slides up to a warm falsetto to highlight his outstanding melodies and insightful lyrics. His small combo— restrained electric guitar, bass, drums and keyboards—produces a sound that echoes the playlists of American soul stations from the ‘70s. Mackampa’s Congolese-flavored acoustic guitar and grand piano open the title track quietly. He sings of the problems he faced as a black, French-speaking child in a mostly white, English-speaking school system. The full band joins in at top volume to underscore his ambivalence as he sings: “I will not stay where I’m not wanted, but I don’t want to leave.” The love songs on the record are marked by catchy melodies and tender turns of phrase. “Magic” expresses the giddy highs of infatuation with clanging guitars, bubbling percussion and Mackampa’s wordless ornamentations; “Under” employs stuttering James Brown guitar accents and funky drums to celebrate a passionate relationship, while “Eventide” showcases Mackampa’s finger picking, acoustic piano and gospel-flavored backing vocals. It all complements a melisma-drenched lead vocal, expressing the deep emotions tied to a long-term relationship.