SONG PREMIERE: Jordan Caiola (Mo Lowda and the Humble) Steps Out Solo with Infectious Folk-Rock on “Back Then”

Jordan Caiola (CAI•OLA) is a songwriter/musician/producer based out of Philadelphia. He founded the indie rock band Mo Lowda & The Humble in 2010 and due to its intense touring schedule, the band became his main priority along with his side project NightSeason (founded 2016) – an indie/electro-pop producer duo.

Though he always felt writing folk songs was his true “wheelhouse”, it wasn’t until the nationwide lockdown in early 2020 that he finally put aside the time to record a collection of those songs for his first solo album Only Real When Shared. The album (due out October 2nd) was recorded entirely during quarantine with producer/engineer/drummer Shane Woods, with whom Caiola previously co-produced all of the Mo Lowda records as well as Arson Daily’s 2020 LP Late Reflections.

Caiola’s debut album highlights every aspect of his vocal spectrum and strips down instrumental elements to direct focus towards the lyrical content much more than on previous efforts. Jangly acoustic guitars, lo-fi drums, and lush harmonies makeup the bulk of this record, with sit-ins from multiple additional musicians sprinkled throughout. Caiola has been releasing a new single every 2 weeks since July 24th, which will continue up until the full album comes out on October 2nd on Workaround Records.

Today Glide is sharing one of those singles with an exclusive premiere of “Back Then.” Featuring acoustic guitar strumming and soulful vocals, the song begins minimally before the lush layering of organ and piano turn the song into an infectious Americana rocker. Lyrically, Caiola focuses on a neglected relationship that has experienced a decline. Calling it “one of those happy sounding sad songs,” Caiola taps into a sound that, musically and melodically, feels optimistic but may not be as much as it seems. Bringing together folk, Americana and indie rock, one would think Caiola has been making this kind of music for years when in fact it is a fresh creative direction. If “Back Then” is any indication, Only Real When Shared will mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter for an artist who already has plenty of accomplishments under his belt. 

Caiola describes the inspiration and process behind the song:

‘Back Then’ was the last song we recorded for the album. We had already recorded 11 tracks and I liked it so much that it ended up bumping two of them off the record. I randomly woke up with it in my head (or at least the chord progression) and wrote it in one sitting. We recorded 90% of the instruments and all of the vocals two days later in a 10-hour session and it just locked in really naturally. I eventually had Jeff Lucci overdub some Rhodes and piano in place of the midi-keyboard leads I had in there (though they remained on the track tucked in there). I’m not really sure where the story line came from. It involves a relationship that two people have sort of let drown over the years without addressing it… without trying to revisit the things that drew them to each other in the first place. It’s one of those happy sounding sad songs that I’ve always loved for some reason. The lyrics (though they’re not directly a first person account from my life) feel as real as any I’ve ever written. I think this sort of thing happens quite often. I hope it can possibly serve as a reminder to some folks who might be going through something similar. It may not be that they’re not right for one another anymore… it may just mean they have to put in the work. Go back to the basics. It relates entirely back to the album’s title ‘Only Real When Shared’ and ended up going the direction most of the songs went. The struggle to find the ways to share that happiness. I don’t consider that a simple feat.

Instrumentally, I just wanted this driving momentum to push the narrative forward and give the listener enough reason to stick around for all of the ‘chapters’ so to speak. I wanted the unexpected drum entrance, the expansive bridge and the eventual breakdown to accomplish this… along with the massive lead melody created by 6 or 7 overdubbed instruments playing octaves of the same line in the choruses and post-chorus that almost create a horn section-like texture without any actual horns. The first post-chorus is my favorite section and it never even repeats… I’ve always loved that move. I always hope it will make the listener hit that replay button after the song ends.


Photo credit: Kirby Sybert

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