Imagine being the first band on the planet—and quite possibly in the universe—to release an album for the 2020 decade. An amazing feat, right? Well, there’s a band on the west coast of the US who achieved just that—I kid you not—and the name is Ward.
Initially I had the privilege to make the band’s acquaintance in June 2017, via an interview with the band’s vocalist, Ward himself. A gracious and interesting interviewee, it was such a pleasure to get to know him and his music in more depth.
Now, I’m excited to familiarize all of you with (the band) Ward’s latest release. As I said, the band purposefully released this creative effort on January 1, 2020 at exactly 12:00AM (UTC+14:00), the dawn of the new decade. In addition to being a collection of beautifully crafted and executed tracks, Ward has designated proceeds from the sales of the album “Bring Me Low” to go to NAMI, a well-respected organization that helps individuals cope with depression and other bouts of mental illness.
“Bring Me Low,” a compendium of songs carefully and concisely illustrating the struggles that creative people find themselves in when battling depression is available for download HERE.
So, here are my thoughts on this brilliant album. I’ve listed it out by title track, each title encapsulated by a few lines of streaming consciousness/impressions scribbled out as I listened. But, please don’t take my word for it. Preview and fall in love with “Bring Me Low” for yourself. And, when you make this album a part of your music collection, feel proud in knowing that you are playing a major part to help musicians, as well as all the rest of us, battle mental disease.
Album Title: Bring Me Low
© January 2020
Drums: Ryan Dietzenbach
Bass: Chris Gongora
Guitar: Mauricio Munguia
Photography by Warren DiFranco
All songs by Ward except Further From The Edge (Ward & Munguia), Leave It On (Ward, Gongora, Dietzenbach) and All The Things I Want (Ward, Gongora, Dietzenbach, Munguia)
All songs mixed by The Elk, except Swimming and Leave It On, mixed by Jason Haag and The Elk, and Whatever Takes You Home, recorded live in one take at the lovely Rev9 studio.
Leave It On—My first thought as the song opens is that the melody resembles a very welcome throwback to the post-punk era of the music that I adore. A seriously wild bass riff anchors driving guitars and a frenetic beat that eventually morphs into a slower pace. But, the vocals never quit/slow down. The frantic lyrics and passionate vocals make listeners feel as if the vocalist is taking us along an anxious journey to a destination unknown.
All The Things I Want—Even though the lyrics are dark and full of introspection, the melody/tempo of this track consists of uptempo rhythms and jangly guitars that perfectly complement the vocals. There’s a definite urgency that is clearly conveyed, and yet the listener is given the sense that perhaps the desires/results the singer longs for have been placed out of reach and ultimately abandoned.
I Can’t Fake It Anymore—The vocals make no bones about the singer/subject being at the end of his rope. We’ve all experienced this state of mind in some form or another during our lives and this song encapsulates perfectly the anger, frustration, and disappointment that result.
Bring Me Low—An angelic anthem that tears at the soul. As a title song, it bears the burden of the entire collection, from introducing the theme to setting the mood. This beautifully haunting song is a success on both counts. Backing vocals harmonize over a bluesy and emotional melody, which then segues into a graphic description of a low point in one’s life and a plaintive plea for relief. It’s a song rife with the struggles and obstacles encountered on the journey to becoming clean and sober.
Further From The Edge—Ward’s range on this track truly takes us to the edge, then draws us slowly back into our comfort/safety zone. It’s like a roller coaster ride that is both exciting and terrifying because we realize we are not in control. All of us, at one time or another, has felt as though life keeps us hurtling along at its own pace, not ours, and this song is a graphic picture of the emotional tumult.
Swimming—Aurally, we are caught in a whirlpool of emotions. If this is what confusion of thoughts and loss of control sounds like, this track facilitates what it’s like to walk in the shoes of someone in the throes of mental illness. It’s not a pretty place to be—this song eventually has an end, but for some who suffer from depression, it can seem like no end is in sight. The lyrics and Ward’s vocals take us to that place so that we can understand it more fully.
Unsettled Souls—This is an unapologetic explanation of why the singer is who he is. What you see is what you get, and we are advised to deal with it. Most of this album lays bare the essence of a person in the midst of mental illness, but this one track sums it up concisely.
Dirt—The message here seems to be that we all have the ability to choose the path our lives will take—up to a point. That path, once chosen, means there is no going backward, only forward to deal with it the best that we can.
Whatever Takes You Home—The lyrics in this track tell us that it’s up to us and us alone to figure out how to maneuver our way through life. It’s difficult for each and every one of us, fraught with mistakes and bad decisions, and sometimes we have to fail before we can successfully reach our destination. This is an honest look at what we all face, and Ward’s vocals pull no punches.
There are three bonus tracks/add-ons that are included with the download: Helter Skelter, Don’t Be Scared, and Sober.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience this incredible album, as well as contribute toward a wonderful and important cause. Again, the album Bring Me Low is just a click away and can be downloaded HERE.
And finally, Ward is pulling together a music compilation of peers and other international musicians to raise money for the Australian firefighting efforts. 100% of proceeds will benefit The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund. Do your part to support this important and heartbreaking cause. Download/listen HERE.
Ward ~ Swimming (Official)
Ward ~ Whatever Takes You Home (Live)