Over the years Jim Ward has performed in At The Drive In and formed the emo powerhouse Sparta. Creating so much music from El Paso, Texas he’s definitely proven himself as a singer and a songwriter. Now he’s showing off those skills in a new way with a new solo album Daggers. What it isn’t is a return to previous things he’s done in the past and what it is would be a nod towards what he’s doing in the future.
The acoustic lead opener “Day By Day” proves that Ward is ready to offer up something different. The strumming is at a quick pace but the shine comes with the echoed backing vocals that come and go before the song goes full force. Switching to a full band sound with distorted guitars holds an energy that takes you by surprise. On “Blink Twice” Ward signals more change with a chopping guitar tone mixed with echoing vocals. The energy from his screamy vocals is still present but the rest of the track is something more experimental and intriguing. He knows what people want and he delivers while treading new territory. Where “Paper Fish” will remind you in some ways of early Sparta, the way the vocals are presented offers up a different tone. The terse energy here works on multiple levels while offering up a new way to hear his words.
The searing energy of “I Got A Secret” featuring Shawna Potter of War On Women has a real Motorhead energy to it without any lifting. In fact hearing Ward sing with someone else is a new dynamic on its own. But the complete tonal quality of a song like “Keep On Failure” proves that Ward is on to something else on this album. The melodic guitars bathed in distortion wade between the dual vocals with an almost orchestral ability while never deterring from being rock music. “Foreign Currency” offers up a harmonic gaze of sounds while staying within the indie rock world. The way the guitars work with the drums to hone a rhythmic sound is mesmerizing and sounds far and away from what you may expect. Though while we loved the fevered energy of “Polygraph” and the driving power of “King Yourself,” out favorite track was “Safe Pair Of Hands.” Here Ward takes these harmonic guitar notes and cultivates this wondrous sound. Pairing with a softer and more handcrafted sound, the big strokes here make for a sound that showcases Ward’s songwriting abilities. While keeping the distortion, there’s something magical in the guitar work that you can’t deny the power behind.
Daggers can be purchased in various formats directly from Dine Alone Records. It’s also available in all digital music stores or it can be streamed on all streaming services.
Image Credits: Photo by Christ Chavez.