Originally from Alberta, Canada, Jordan Ostrom – better known as Sykamore – first came to prominence after she was discovered by legendary songwriter Rhett Akins on social media. She released her debut EP, ‘Self + Medicine’, back in 2018, followed by a second, ‘California King’ in 2020, and has also duetted with Ryan Kinder on his track ‘Doing Fine’. Now, after the release of her first studio album ‘Pinto’ in August last year, this week’s she been making her UK live debut with sets in Liverpool and at the Camden Club in London last year.
Arriving on stage shortly before 8 PM, Sykamore opened her solo acoustic set with ‘We Were Alright’, from her ‘Self + Medicine’ EP. It’s an upbeat, pop-influenced track peppered with Johnny Cash references and has a great singalong energy that belies its nostalgic lyrics about looking back on a relationship that didn’t work out. Sykamore’s vocals really shone on the track and her sweet, honeyed tones absolutely soared above the guitar melody. The audience burst into cheers and applause as she finished the song and that very much set the tone for the rest of her set.
Along with tracks from ‘Pinto’, Sykamore also took the opportunity to play us a few new songs. ‘Emotional’ had a 90s rock vibe about it in the vein of classic Alanis Morrissette tracks, as well as a lovely romantic quality, whilst the wistful ‘Highway Towns’ was packed with lyrical detail that painted a tremendously vivid picture of the towns she compared to relationships you know won’t last (with a late night preacher on the radio and ‘a Comfort Inn you’ll find no comfort in’). She also came across as very warm and relaxed on stage, cracking jokes and telling stories about the songs and the process of making the record.
That said, there was also plenty for fans of ‘Pinto’ on offer. The lush, twangy ‘Record High’ put a fresh spin on the list song with its big singalong and details of lying down and getting lost in your favourite music, whilst ‘California King’ provided a slowed-down yet knowing two fingers up at a guy who thinks he’s ‘James damn Dean’ (and also featured my favourite line of the night, ‘you think that I’ll free fall, you’re so Tom Petty’). Meanwhile, album closer ‘Wallflower’ had a delicate feel about it, with Sykamore singing about her yearning to find someone to dance through life. It really tugs at the heartstrings and has a soft feel that makes it impossible not to get lost in the melody.
Sykamore closed the set with her album’s title track, ‘Pinto’. Using a car with the potential to burst into flames as a metaphor for young love, the track has a pulsing, rocky quality about it before building into a huge bridge and chorus. Sykamore really draws you into the narrative of these characters and by the end you feel completely immersed in their story and its cinematic feel – I can see a sun-soaked video for this looking absolutely incredible.
Overall Sykamore delivered an excellent debut London performance, showing off the range of influences on her music as well as her skills as a lyricist and some brilliant vocals. She held the audience absolutely spellbound – you could literally hear a coin drop at one point! – and was an incredibly engaging performer. I can’t wait to see her back in the UK again and am really excited to hear more from her in future!
Setlist: 1. We Were Alright 2. Record High 3. Emotional 4. California King 5. Wallflower 6. Highway Towns 7. Pinto Performance date: 29th January 2023