Empty glasses. Broken hearts. Sleeping with pretty girls and watching the sun rise with the boys. Jordan Carr hasn’t just survived a lifetime’s worth of these nights. He lives for them. And while some people might never accomplish anything past the empty bottles and piled-up voicemails, Carr channeled his adventures into Empty Bottles, Full Hearts, an album of whisky-soaked rock’n’roll that celebrates the virtues of an irresponsible life without ever glossing over the headaches and heartbreaks that are inevitably part of the deal.
Engineered by Eric Bloomquist (Chance the Rapper, Soul Asylum), this is a record born for jukeboxes that still take quarters. Empty Bottles, Full Hearts is a cheerier version of The Gaslight Anthem mixed with deep cuts from early Billy Joel albums, but it’s timeless enough for any rock’n’roll-loving listener whose life hasn’t gone according to plan. This is a story of a man that has lost a lot of chances, money and—in the case of the jail sentence during which Carr wrote the entire album—freedom. It’s a stirring and gorgeous retelling of Carr’s reckless years and he’ll be the first to admit that it’s all his fault.
“This album is full of songs that all have very specific memories and characters from an all-too-real life I’ve been living with my friends, ex-lovers and the battles in my head,” says Carr. “Even though I wouldn’t want to do it again, I’m glad that I lived it … and survived.”
These six tracks combine acoustic and electric guitars with piano, horns and solid rhythm section to tell a stirring story that manages to be both present and nostalgic at the same time. These are tales of broken hearts and busted bank accounts. Through it all, Carr sings with passion and honesty. It’s an album your drunk uncle would understand, one to repulse the good girls and attract the rest. The record understands your low points, offering a round on the house instead of a hand to pick you up.
It takes a unique voice to look back at dark times and remember the insanity with both a knowing smile and the wisdom to never do it again. Carr channels that voice on Empty Bottles, Full Hearts. He’s a kindred spirit of unhealthy coping mechanisms and he’s made a record for survivors, a soundtrack to wild nights, trampled feelings and last calls.