Super Slick Crossover Songs That Herald a Move Up Into The Big League.
Forgive me if this review seems a bit ‘rushed’ but the album was on the doorstep when I arrived home from work and I won’t have any time to write a review before the release date…… on FRIDAY!
Twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas have been on our radar for quite a while now, first coming to our attention via a friend who is ‘in the know’ when they first played the SummerTyne Festival in 2015 and they stole the show on the Jumpin’ Hot Club stage in the sunshine. Such is their meteoric rise in the ranks of British Country Music they quickly bypassed the JHC and went straight to selling out Hall 2 at Sage Gateshead and last year leaving very few empty seats in the massive Hall 1!
Which brings me to their third album RESTLESS MINDS, hot on the heels (well, 2 years after) their #1 album Cartwheels.
So, shooting from the hip……. opening track No Filter is a brooding ballad, of the Soft Rock variety, with harmonies so luscious you could drown in them. The song itself is very cleverly written and delivered; but the Electro ‘tsh tsh’ drumming isn’t what I was expecting nor hoping for, and somewhat overshadows the girls voices.
Second track Lie Like Me follows in a similar vein; really really commercial but as far removed from their Country background as you can get, I’m afraid.
Mercifully the third song, a bonafide heartbreaker, One More Goodbye finds the girls singing from the pits of their souls as a piano and bass provide cardiac support on a song that’s every bit as good, if not better than anything on the two previous albums; plus it has a couple of great lines too………
“Kiss me like you’re trying to hold on
20 more minutes and I’m out the door
Gimmee one more……..Gimmee one more….
There’s no doubting that Catherine and Lizzy can write one helluva good song; One More Goodbye, Rather Be Breathing and Same Love are quite exceptional; but alongside the ‘big production’ herald a new direction for Ward Thomas.
Never Know is another great example; it has everything that it takes to be a hit with the Younger and Hipper generation than my own; somehow reminding me of Abba and Sharleen Spiteri’s Texas, rather than Ashley Monroe or the Dixie Chicks.
Aha! All is not lost though……. the delightful Changing does tick all of my boxes, harmonies – yep, guitars – yep, fiddle – yep, great story – yep; but it’s very much in the minority here.
If I listen to the charming No Fooling Me a few more times it will probably be a contender for Favourite Track status (and I guess it will be in Mrs. Magpie’s Top 3 too); another very articulate and moving ‘bittersweet love song’ that has all the hallmarks of being a radio hit; as will the tearjerker This Too Will Pass.
Choosing a Favourite Track this quickly is surely a mistake; as songs can effect me in different ways the more I hear them; but I’m going to take a deep breath and choose……….. the 90 mph I Believe In You with it’s rat-a-tat-tat drumming, sharp guitar licks and the Ward Thomas sisters at their very best up front and centre.
Maybe I don’t listen to enough of what’s coming out of Music Row in Nashville these days; but I’m not hearing very much here that could be called ‘Country’ but what I do hear is a very well collated Crossover album that will carry their existing fan base and bringing in a whole raft of Radio 2 listeners; like Mrs. Magpie who will love this when she hears it ………. and, more than likely………. a huge American audience beckons!
Please bare in mind I’ve only played this twice; but I’m 99.9% sure the next time I hear it will be in the car when my darling wife is in charge of the music programming.
Released February 8th 2019