Jim Ward, known best for his post-punk status (At The Drive-In, Sleepercar, and Sparta) has been putting out solo EPs for years including Quiet (2007), In the Valley, On the Shores (2009) and The End Begins (2011). This new album combines the three EPs into one, assembling some very serious and wide-ranging work into one place. Also included is a six-song EP with electric versions of selected tracks, for those who just can’t let the electric go, but you truly won’t be disappointed in the acoustic versions, promise.
Opening with “On My Way Back Home Again” we begin the journey, and it’s a moving piece, paving the way for the first set of songs. This alternate side of Ward is one that may take some long-time fans aback; it is a softer sound and for a singer/songwriter of Jim Ward’s punk/experimental pedigree to refreshingly basic folk-almost country is certainly a hard right. It isn’t unheard of for artists to switch genres, in fact it seems of late to be a trend for hardcore and punk artists to strip down and embrace their softer side, for Ward though it reactionary after a whirlwind lifestyle of loud and fast music and constant travel.
“Take It Back” continues the first five-song segment and with added, just barely, backing vocal from Maura Davis this cut is surprisingly sweet, but heartbreaking, one can imagine that these words were taken directly from a very real, very painful discussion.
Once moving into “Coastlines” the album picks up a little pace and opens up, with a little Latin-tinged guitar work this song is a joy to hear, and number is covered later in the electric segment. Powerful in both versions the acoustic seems to deliver a bit more punch, but both are very well done.
“Waves In Spanish” is an upbeat number and would be perfectly at home in the soundtrack to a Western movie. The floating harmonies bring to mind vast open landscapes while the country guitar-breaks divide the song perfectly.
Ward opens up even more on the next track “Decades” which has a “Texas” quality to it, and is oddly reminiscent of the Beatles “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” with it’s lilting and upbeat movement. One of the best songs on the album this should not be missed.
One small point to note is the slight lack of continuity in the album, as this is really a collection of works written over a span of more than five years Ward’s songwriting ability, arrangements and even mood are reflected in each song, the progression is obvious. Although the evolution is noticeable, it does not distract from the album as a whole.
Available this week through Tembloroso Creative Lab, fans will surely enjoy this collection of well-written tracks, and props to Ward for giving his listeners something so interesting to enjoy. If you aren’t a fan of Jim Ward yet, you should give this talented artist a try.
By Meredith Underhill