Whelmed, and then some

When you wear your ambition on your sleeve and refuse to restrain your creativity, the urge to do too much is almost overwhelming. Ward White somehow modulates the spectacular scope and almost incomprehensible breadth of his songs into small gems that are both instantly relatable and eternally entrancing. Alt pop that both charms the ears and the mind is a rare commodity, but White has a firm grip on the secret.

Ward White
Leonard at the Audit

One secret is don't repeat yourself. White's somewhat strained alto is reminiscent of James Mercer of the Shins, but he's nowhere nearly as twee. And his songs trend toward the muscular. And they travel miles in search of resolution.

Sometimes he doesn't get there, and that failure is its own form of resolution. Some songs aren't meant to be neatly wrapped up. Even some tightly-crafted pop songs exist to roam without fences. White isn't particularly showy, but his skill at putting together a wide variety of pop songs is impressive.

Few albums work as ear candy and monuments of reflection. White's knack for creating songs that work both ways is fascinating and wonderful to hear. Personally, I'm gonna take another dose of this set on the deck with a bourbon tonight. You're free to concoct your own cocktail. Make sure to use ice. Watching it melt as these songs infuse themselves into your consciousness is sheer delight.

Jon Worley

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