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“JUST FOR THE MOMENT”
©2009 Songdog Records
Review by Lucky Boyd
Townes Van Zandt wrote songs, and some would say he did it “for the sake of the song.” While there’s nothing wrong with that, and while it’s true that some folks just have stuff in them that must come out in song, there exists another kind of songwriter. There is that kind of writer who not only must let fly that which is pent up, but must emerge having said something meaningful. Now there will be no argument that Townes’ songs had no meaning, so don’t go there, but this is a study of Bill Ward and his constant expulsion from his muse of the poignant and timeless. From the opening cut, Ward, who pens the entire disc, comes out firing at those who would walk through this world ignorant of their lasting impression upon it. Ward then moves on to the lost art of a child using his own imagination rather than that imposed upon him by the latest video game. Bill Ward’s use of folk, pop, and rock rhythms are a symphony of intrigue and emotion. Ward steps to the plate with this CD and touches all the bases. The influences are varied and deep, a testament to his songwriting prowess and a career of finding just the right way to say what must be said. Musically, the disc is solid and well orchestrated, with Ward performing most of the instruments you hear, but for a few mere exceptions. Ward is joined by his fellow MyTexasMusic.com members in Rob May, Ken Gaines, and Selia Qynn, as he delivers a commercially viable piece of art, a rare feat these days. Listeners will adore the entire disc and new fans will get a comprehensive introduction to Bill Ward. The best cut is the title track and though it’s a personal story, it is Ward at the outer edges of his comfort zone, which makes him more focused and, with nothing to lose, less tentative. Competing for most emotional performance is “Potter’s Hands” and “Last Call” tells a all-too-true story that would have been further exploited by a lesser songwriter. Ward just serves it up and says, “deal with it.” If you were hoping for slick, over production and no substance, you’re out of luck. Bill Ward has come to stay, and I assure you it will be “just for the moment” and beyond. As a songwriter, I find this to be an interesting album and I would quickly say that there is much to be learned from Bill Ward. If you know your Texas music at all, you’ll hear this disc and say, “Hey, that’s Bill Ward.” To be so quickly recognized by your art is a pinnacle-type benchmark in one’s career. Who could ask for more? Townes would have agreed.
SDR 0509: Eleven tracks; all songs written by Ward (BMI); publisher Bill Ward/Post No Bills Music (BMI); produced by Ward; mastered by Nick Landis at Terra Nova; appearances: Greg Morrow, Eric Darken, Bud Bierhaus, Wayne Wilkerson, Rob May, Ken Gaines, Steve Blyskal, Selia Qynn; jewel case; 4/4/1 panel insert; liner notes; screen disc; replicated; running time approx. 43 minutes
Previous notes (from www.songdogrecords.com):
Bill Ward never set out to defy musical categories. “I just love all kinds of music,” he says, shrugging at the labels that critics and industry-insiders have put on his unique sound, “country, gospel, opera, classical, jazz, blues, you name it. That’s how I grew up.” Leaving a classical career on French horn in favor of composing and conducting, Bill plays just about every instrument in the orchestra. “I still want to learn violin,” he said on his forty-seventh birthday. He started out at age five on piano and guitar, instruments he still plays at most shows, but expanded to French horn in high school, trumpet in a marching band and later the organ as choir director. All the while, he was writing songs as well. His “Something for the Children,” for example, was selected as the theme song for the March of Dimes in 1978. After college, he began to tour. Bill Ward & Making Waves headlined all over Florida playing dance music with a seven-piece band that featured Stan Kenton’s first trumpet. “We played covers, but my band was so tight. No one was using trombone in those years, and my guys were all so talented that writing arrangements for them was so much fun,” he said, looking back. A veteran of the hard traveling touring circuit, Bill began composing larger scores. His “David and Goliath,” a musical he wrote for performance on the beach, is still well remembered by many a citizen of Panama City. This experience led to commissions for film soundtracks and music production ventures at his studio in Houston, Texas, but as he puts it, “Writing my own lyrics and singing my own songs remains my first love musically.” 1991 saw the release of his first CD,” William is our Name”. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of pop radio, the CD still enjoys airplay in the U.S., Canada, Russia, Ireland and The Netherlands. You can hear him on Willie Nelson’s “Outlaw for Peace” show, which airs worldwide on Radio for Peace International. His most recent CD, “Skyline”, shows a musical maturity unsurpassed among his peers. New York music critic Kirpal Gordon called it, “the real McCoy! And on eleven songs that just don’t quit but build and bridge and return a profound sense of hope born of a willingness to witness the hardest truths about ourselves. My money says two-to-one they will still be heard, these songs of our common plight and possibility, after the corn-pone fascists, hair-do disasters and masters of the demographic hustle who have taken over Nashville are long gone.” Hill Country music critic Kathleen Hudson, author of Telling Stories, Writing Songs (UT Press), wrote, “No one has a voice as seductive as Bill Ward, but Skyline is more than just a great singer’s showcase. It’s the blend of voice, hard won lyrics, incredible instrumental skills and masterful arrangements that keep these songs in your head long after the CD stops playing. Round out your Texas music collection by getting these titles – your collection is not complete until you do!
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