Live Review: Jordyn Shellhart

Deer Lodge Ojai, CA

Contact: Joseph Conner, [email protected]

Web: jordynshellhart.com

Players: Jordyn Shellhart, guitar, vocals

Material: Returning to the forefront as a performer, and sharing songs from her sophomore release, Primrose, country songstress Jordyn Shellhart performed a 30-minute set (opening for Brett Dennen) of beautiful vocals and gentle guitar riffs that blended perfectly beneath her vulnerable storytelling. Born in Wyoming and raised in California, the Nashville-based country-pop artist has songwriting credits for Don Williams (“I Won’t Give Up on You”), has co-written hits for Kelsea Ballerini (“I Guess They Call It Fallin,’” “Second Hand Smoke”) and Mickey Guyton (“How You Love Someone”), and has songs recorded by Cody Johnson and Garrett Hedlund (“I Always Wanted To”).

Musicianship: Show opener “Irrelevant” pulled on the ears of the crowd with a soft vocal introduction, as greater octave leaps and melodic lines developed on “Tell Your Mother I’m Fine.” “The Only Perfect” added soft head voice passages and more poignant storytelling. The musical narrative intensified in the heart-wrenching, first-person abuser narrative, “Amelia,” which included a lovely cadence, vocal turnarounds and transitions. “Joni” shared lilting vocal lines and strong higher-octave passages, while “Who Are You Mad At” garnered increased audience attention as the buzz started building in the room.

Performance: Delivering colorful smooth vocals, and showing a confident ease in her musicianship (despite the acoustic challenges of the room itself), Shellhart rounded out her set with Grammy-nominated “Sugar Coat” (which she co-wrote with Josh Kerr and Lori McKenna for Little Big Town). The incredible lyrics shone through behind her emotive vocals, with solid guitar work and a sincere, polished blend of sound that made it hard to believe there was only one person performing.

Summary: With a combination of confidence and gentleness, Jordyn Shellhart had a sweet easiness about her stage persona that called on the listener to lean in. While the room was not an easy one to play—including less-than-stellar acoustics, and a packed crowd of people on their feet—Shellhart’s delivery and demeanor remained unruffled for the invested crowd. Building on the emotion of her heartfelt stories, Shellhart’s performance brings a combination of clear vocal and songwriting talent alongside an open and captivating vulnerability. – Andrea Beenham