DAVID WARD’S NEWEST ALBUM WORKS A SILKY SOUL GROOVE
David Ward is a singer/songwriter who has based himself in Vancouver, London and Berlin.
Violet, Gold + Rose is his third full-length release and follows on the success of his last album, Transitioning. His music is influenced by classic funk, as well as elements of the blue-eyed soul made popular by bands such as Simply Red. In other words, it’s pretty pristine.
Here are five things to know about his third album, Violet, Gold + Rose:
1. The single-ular path:
Leading up to the release of the full-length album, Ward dropped a single a month for 13 months until the release. This is a method many musicians are making use of as they try to build buzz for actual albums in this contemporary singles-driven market. It certainly lends itself well to social-media marketing and enables potential new fans to take in your art bit by bit.
Violet, Gold + Rose is spectacularly well-produced. Perhaps that’s because it was mixed and mastered by Grammy Awardwinning Russell Elevado. His track record includes working with D’Angelo, Alicia Keys, The Roots and Erykah Badu. Any/all of these could be reference points to Ward’s smooth neo-soul.
3. Neon Palisades
There are 33 musicians on the album, including a full orchestra and Kamasi Washington vocalist Patrice Quinn. These are put to full use throughout the song cycle. But it’s the superinteresting descending guitar lick that opens this track and the super-slinky groove it establishes that makes this the first standout song. Instantly familiar, it’s not derivative.
4. Jesus Hollywood
Few things make me smile more than hearing artists who aren’t afraid to embrace the big symphonic sounds of Philadelphia soul and its almost disco-like danceability. Ward has a clubfloor jamming piece with this one, complete with unexpected near-Pink Floyd-ish guitar jams two-thirds of the way through. That was a surprise. A pleasant one like the bass and brass vamp in Banging on My Drum.
5. David Ward, Oct. 18, Guilt & Co You can hear a stripped-down version of Ward and his backing crew at Vancouver’s home of soul, R&B and some very tasty cocktails. He’s in Toronto (Oct. 21) and Montreal (Oct. 26) before he likely heads back to England and Europe. Give a listen to the sessions on YouTube.
ALSO SPINNING THIS WEEK: Aaron Parks Little Big: Aaron Parks Little Big (Ropeadope Selects)
On the followup to his 2008 Blue Note Records album Invisible Cinema comes the new album from keyboardist/composer/ bandleader Parks, and his latest unit is smoking. Right off from the opening track Kid, guitarist Greg Tuohey establishes that he’ll be searing his mark all over this album, while the rhythm section of drummer Tommy Crane and electric bassist David (DJ) Ginyard Jr. prove able to slink by (The Trickster) or get busy (Digital Society) with equal ease. At 15 tracks, Parks has plenty of time to explore his interests and this includes a big romantic streak with the slow ballad Mandala being a highlight. I haven’t heard a synth solo that sensitive since Joe Zawinul in Weather Report.
High on Fire: Electric Messiah (eOne)
It’s been three years since Luminiferous became this Oakland metal trio’s best-received album of their career. Given the band’s power-thrash trio style, that lead guitarist Matt Pike named the album in honour of the late Lemmy Kilmister should come as no surprise. That said, High on Fire are more inventive than Motorhead were, with songs such as Sanctioned Annihilation boasting strong doom chording or the ripping classic Bay Area thrash of Freebooter. Play it loud.
Kristin Hersh: Possible Dust Clouds (Fire Records)
That Hersh was a ripping guitarist in Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave might have been forgotten somewhat given the acoustic work and more cerebral book and album projects of the past decade. LAX will change that in 3:50. Her voice sounding like she gargled steel wool and the production just raging with dirty reverb, the rocker establishes the tone of Possible Dust Clouds. Even when the acoustic strums in on Halfway Home, it’s underlaid with vocal multitracking and noise that will have grunge-era fans smiling. Loud Mouth is a standout example of why the term “alt-rock” actually ever existed.
Living With Lions: Island (Bloom Recordings)
The third full-length album from this Vancouver punk-pop outfit is full of all the kind of pump-the-air anthems and melodic hooks you would expect from the genre. The band has been through it in the many years it took to make the record. Lead singer Stu Ross left in 2012, founding member Chase Brenneman took over vocals and Craig Spelliscy joined as the new guitarist. Then the drummer needed back surgery, Brenneman tore his abdominal wall howling and — yeah — if songs like the lead single Tidal Wave sound a bit more angst-ridden than past material, there is a reason.
Nov. 24, Venue Nightclub (with ■ the Flatliners)
Vancouver singer David Ward’s Violet, Gold + Rose follows on the success of his last album, Transitioning.