Editorials, Print April 17, 2023

Lindsey Jordan Doesn’t Want To Write Sad Songs— At Least Not Right Now

by Gabe Allen

Snail Mail’s bandleader on love, existential dread and losing her voice

Photo by Tina Tyrell

Lindsey Jordan’s Pain and Healing

Sometimes the best albums are born from the worst circumstances. When Lindsey Jordan first began to string chords, melodies and lyrics together for Snail Mail’s sophomore album, Valentine, it was often through tears.

“I was genuinely in a terrible place,” she tells Bandwagon by phone. “At the time, it felt really helpful to put it all into words.”

The pandemic was at its height and Jordan was going through a devastating breakup. A few months later when she went into the studio, those wounds were still fresh. 

“It just hurt,” she said. Now, on tour, she revisits that angst every night when she plays songs such as “Automate” and “Mia.” But rather than reopening old wounds, the songs now serve as  reminders of all of the healing she’s done.

“I don’t really care about that girl anymore,” she explains. “That’s the beauty of heartbreak records. You can get it all out. You can feel it all. Now it’s just fun to play the songs and reinvent them.”

Snail Mail has always been defined by pain, yearning and lost love, but that doesn’t feel honest to Jordan anymore. At 23, she loves her job, is well-loved by friends and has found a stable relationship.

“I don’t know what it is, but nothing really feels like that big of a deal to me anymore,” she says. “Like, we’re just mammals on this earth. I don’t want to write sad songs right now. I want to see what else I can do.”

The Singer with No Voice

Jordan has done a lot of healing over the past year. Not just emotionally, but physically too. Back when she was recording Valentine, her voice would unexpectedly give out.

“I was always losing my voice on tour from the beginning of Snail Mail, but at a certain point I couldn’t maintain it at all,” she said. “I was losing it all the time.”

The album was released in late 2021 and garnered critical acclaim. Meanwhile, Jordan was preparing for a surgery to remove a polyp from her vocal cords. When she woke up, she couldn’t speak, let alone sing.

“I couldn’t talk for an entire month,” she recalls. “Nothing would come out. It was so scary.”

Photo by Tina Tyrell

Jordan Returns to the Stage and to Herself

For the first time in her life, Jordan started taking vocal lessons. At first, the goal was just to be able to talk again. Then, it was to be able to sing again. After months of rehab, Jordan finally played a show last April, her first since the beginning of the pandemic. She was shaky and nervous, and barely made it through the set.

“Getting on stage again after nearly three years of not playing and having this new instrument—it was gnarly,” she admits.

As the tour wore on, Jordan’s confidence grew and her voice returned. In fact, it came back stronger. Vocal lessons and healthy vocal cords allowed her to hit new notes.

When Jordan pens her next album, she will do it with a new perspective and new voice. But one thing will remain the same—her capacity to mine a deep wellspring of feelings toward and about the world through music. 

“I went through an entire year, and it’s still happening, of just existential dread,” she says. “I’d be like ‘I love my friend,’ and then I’d go home and cry and be like ‘oh shit, he’s going to die. There’s no way it won’t creep into the vibe of the record. I definitely feel like that’s a big part of my reality.”

Photo by Tina Tyrell

Snail Mail will play at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins on April 10 and at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on April 11. Dazy and Water From Your Eyes will open both nights.