Scene and Heard  – CCXXXIX :  Not Too Far to Reach –  Jake Ward (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

EP_Album_CoverFINAL2_preview_300300To an outsider, particularly one born on the opposite shore of The Atlantic and with very different musical traditions running through my DNA, country music can often seem to be full of predictable pitfalls and calculated cliche. But away from the rhinestones and glitter of Music City’s main thoroughfares there are artists who paint very different pictures even whilst using the same palette of musical colours.

Even when in acoustic country ballad mode as the titular track finds him, Jake Ward explores wonderful new ways of blending the genre with contemporary rock and even some deft pop hooks and mainstream sensibilities. The result is a song built of twanging country rock guitars, sweeping folky fiddles, rich harmonies and a mix of confident riffs, poetic lyrics and clever musical detail, and an accessibility which will have the most fervent pair of country boots stepping and stomping but which will also get the pop sneakers on the move too.

Although the title track of the e.p. of the same name, it is the most considered and understated of the collection. Freight Train, it’s polar opposite is heartland rock at its most vibrant, I’m Leaving tracks folky, bluesy, country boogie to its logical and most energetic conclusion and Where The Wind Blows is stadium ready country-pop-rock. It’s a pretty eclectic package!

Country music in many ways is the beating heart of the nation, the soundtrack to the American Dream, at least in popular perceptions, it is as powerful and popular, diverse and desired as ever and it is artists such as Jake Ward who will ensure that remains the case. There is a reason why he already comes with the label, Number one best kept secret on the Texas music scene!

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