Album: Almighty Row
Comments: If various internet sites are to believed, singer / songwriter Jason Ward has written over 350 songs between 2001 and 2009, with another EP slated to be released sometime early in 2010. Considering that most bands don't write that many songs over the course of a career, Ward can safely be classified as one prolific motherfucker.
While his output is certainly remarkable, his most recent full length Almighty Row is anything but.
The album, which referrers to a big ass fight and not some dudes trying to get down a river, is a sparse and depressing affair: its 10 tracks clock in at 31 minutes and the subject matter is almost entirely about being really sad or fighting with a loved one. Tracks have titles like "Just About Time (to Get Even)" and "Hinting Towards the Door." These cuts sound exactly like one would expect.
The songs are based around simple, repetitive piano lines and /or guitar chords. Everything is played softly: strings are muted, chords are hushed. They have one or two parts, and those parts are repeated for three or so minutes while Ward softly sings about breakups, fights and generally being bummed out about a relationship. Sample lyric from the song Sinkhole: “Enjoy your sinkhole / make it your home / you raise your kids there / and die alone.” So, yeah, not really a feel good record.
Look, no one wants to knock a guy who writes a shit load of songs, records them himself and puts them out for free on the internet. I mean, I do that. Shit, I was raised on punk! I fucking love DIY! I wish Jason Ward nothing but the best. That being said, most of Almighty Row is bland and forgettable. Though it never sounds insincere or forced, the tracks are too sparse, too simple, too samey to be of any substance. I want to recommend Ward on the strength of how he does what he does, but one would be much better off with Elliott Smith.
Assuming the Internet hype is honest, Ward isn't going to stop writing songs any time soon. I hope he doesn't. I hope he keeps making his simple, honest songs until the day he dies. I just don't expect I'll be listening to too many of them.