Very little about Leslie Jordan’s professional trajectory is typical. From regular roles on TV, winning an Emmy, and recently becoming Instagram famous, his career has taken one unexpected turn after another. Now he can add one other accomplishment to his resume: gospel singer.
Jordan has issued his first LP, Company’s Comin’, and with the help of a stacked roster of gifted guest vocalists, it’s as improbable a success as his career to-date.
Just the very fact that this record features Dolly Parton, Brandi Carlile, TJ Osborne, Tanya Tucker, Eddie Vedder, Ashley McBryde, and Chris and Morgane Stapleton makes it a noteworthy event. What makes it a worthwhile one is hearing the joy and reverence Jordan brings to singing gospel and the comfort these songs brought to him growing up Baptist and gay in rural Tennessee and then during later difficult times in his life.
Company’s Comin’ is a warm, enticing listen from start to finish. Jordan performs the material capably and seriously, but presents it with a light touch that reflects his personality. “Angel Band” is the best track on the album. Carlile sings the hell out of it, no surprise there, but Jordan holds his own well. The two play well off each other, with Jordan’s asides and background exultations helping to give the track a fun, ragged looseness.
Jordan engages in light banter and quips throughout Company’s Comin’. It’s does more than just serve as an expression of Jordan’s exuberant personality; it highlights the communal nature of gospel and music in general, reminding listeners of the pleasure that comes in singing a familiar, treasured song with another person.
That interpersonal dynamic makes for an intriguing listening experience. It’s fun to hear his repartee with Ashley McBryde and Charlie Worsham (who also plays a mean mandolin) on the sublime “Workin’ on a Building” and with Dolly Parton on “Where the Soul Never Dies.” While there’s none of that banter on “The One Who Hideth Me,” his duet with Eddie Vedder penned by album co-producers Danny Myrick and Travis Howard, there’s still a graceful, light touch that matches the mood of the entire affair.
Company’s Comin’ works so well because of the grace and warmth Jordan and his talented creative partners bring to it. It’s a real treat.