by: Eliza Farber
After a seven year hiatus, UK-born, Toronto-raised, LA-transplant Rochelle Jordan is back with her sophomore album, Play With the Changes, and it’s exactly the kind of album we need as we begin to see the light at the end of this pandemic. The strong electronic beat, weightless vocals, and introspective lyrics present the perfect soundtrack to dance through the pain and really “play with the changes” of this tough year—in whatever way that means for you. Jordan’s music is influenced by this mirage of environments, together with her Jamaican roots, which explains how she is able to craft such a versatile sound. While her 2014 debut album, 1021, divulged a more classic R&B tone, Play With the Changes takes on more of an electronic sound with a blend of house, R&B, and UK garage.
After some success with 1021, Jordan was weighed down by a host of issues having to do with her physical and mental health, along with some problems with her record label. She recently signed to TOKIMONSTA’s Young Arts Records, which she says was instrumental in allowing Play With the Changes to reach its full creative potential. In an interview with Complex, she explained that TOKIMONSTA has helped her to understand what “real supports looks like…with real people that are passionate about your music, that want to see it fly.”
For Jordan, the years-long process of working on this album has taken on a spiritual weight. Play With the Changes is full of positive affirmations and self-observation, allowing us to witness both her personal and musical growth with each track. On Already, Jordan describes the process of leaving a toxic relationship with lyrics like “I waited so patiently/accepting it for what it be/shoulda done, coulda done that already.” On Lay, she sings of the anxiety of police brutality and racial injustice, of not knowing when or if her loved ones will return as they walk out the door.
Jordan’s easy willingness to explore different topics and sounds throughout Play With the Changes was irresistibly contagious as a listener. I found it impossible to sit still while experiencing this album, in the very best way possible. This is the kind of music that inspires that bodily release that we all need so desperately right now—that instant serotonin that comes from being carefree and shameless, even if it only lasts for the length of her forty-six minute tracklist.
I think it’s this very freedom and release of control that Jordan aimed to capture with Play With the Changes. Her wisdom shows through not only in her music, but also in her way of being. In an interview with Metal Magazine, she spoke of her new sound and what she hoped her fans would take away from the album— “I want the listeners to feel good and open to these changes, not only in my music…but in life generally speaking. A lot of the time we’re so afraid of change because we don’t know what’s on the other side of it. So easily do we paralyse ourselves instead of being brave enough to open our minds and go forth into new territories.” If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that change is often scary, but we’d be hurting ourselves if we didn’t try to explore, grow, and truly play with those changes.