“Time, you know it was never mine.” Möbius Wave
David Ward’s Transitioning is a reflective, turbulent and triumphant rhapsody. Venturing into the kaleidoscopic unknown of this life and the next, violence and reconciliation guide two stories that unfold in the absence of control. Ward’s third release to date is one that breathes a new and shimmering wanderlust into his small but diverse body of work.
Clocking in at less than fifteen minutes, Transitioning is a one-movement, episodic rhapsody that moves from lush, orchestral soul, reminiscent of 70s-era Mayfield, to swampy, howling grunge, inspired by the Pacific North West of the early 90s.
Once again, Ward has teamed up with producer Tom Dobrzanski (Brasstronaut, We Are the City) who worked on side A of his critically acclaimed Golden Future Time.
Most likely to: Be assured of a golden future. The Guardian
Ward’s long-time band provides the muscle behind Transitioning but it sees him add a new cast of musicians to the mix – a seven-piece chamber orchestra, including french horn, trombone, flugel horn, and harp. It also marks his first collaboration with members of the West Coast contemporary string ensemble, The End Tree (Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast). A shared love of everything from Stevie Wonder to Bartok led to a fruitful collaboration between Ward and End Tree members, Elliot Vaughan and Martin Reisle. The arrangements borne of their time together provide the sonic undercurrent to this sweeping, cinematic work.
Transitioning is a new reflection on themes Ward has been exploring since Golden Future Time.
We open in a place of loss, retracing steps to the remains of what was. Scatter of Ash pulls us into the apocalyptic aftermath of war. Inspired by author Dave Eggers’, “What is the What?” the fictional re-telling of the story of Lost Boy and Sudanese refugee, Valentino Achak Deng, Scatter of Ash’s sister song, Mother, is a soulful journey that explores loneliness and the surprising manifestations of instinctive human kindness.
Swell is the beginning of the wave that takes us from the theatre of war out into the un-anchored loneliness of disease. Musically, Möbius Wave is a solemn march through the swampy back woods of the south into the thrashing, untethered rage of the ‘Seattle sound.’ The undercurrent of the celestial and dissonant orchestrations conjure up the themes of loss, violence, kindness and loneliness of the first half of Transitioning, but the struggle here becomes more internal, more personal.
The meditative planes of the closing moments offer a sense of peace, but one that is questioning. Scatter of Light shrewdly re-harmonizes the chords from Scatter of Ash, ending this piece where it began – changed, yet the same.
Evolution is a juggernaut and Ward has just started to roll. He moves across the pond from the west coast of Canada on September 1st for a three-month residency. Transitioning is set for UK release on 9.9.
Praise for Transitioning
David Ward is a quite singular talent…his unique voice – high, keening, packed with emotion – is allied to a songwriting sensibility which is, at times, devastating…’Transitioning’ is forthcoming, and it’s a powerful return from an artist ever-keen to challenge himself.
…Ward’s soulful operatic vocal is set to harmonious, subtle contrasts…The slow-burning percussive pound, considered guitar licks and gently rising orchestration of the lovely verses is the real bedrock of the song, and much like the work of Mercury and compadres, ‘Möbius Wave’ never fails to intrigue.
Lost in the Manor
…David Ward is a rather special talent…Mother is an object lesson in new (nu) soul, as his voice, this instrument capable of overwhelming beauty, steers it’s course somewhere close to Stevie Wonder.
Underneath all of that is some extravagantly lush arrangements, with strings, organ all marking the changes while guitar washes around in the background. It’s lovely stuff.
Praise for Golden Future Time
His new single marks the emergence of a very special artist indeed.
Exploratory, ever-evolving songcraft, his is a beautiful, very solitary universe.
Apologies for the lack of restraint, but we make this the second album of the year this week alone.
Most likely to: Be assured of a golden future.
Least likely to: Get lost.
Golden Future Time is the kind of sprawling album that will stop you in your tracks.
…the only thing stopping David Ward from becoming a household name is the injustice of the music industry.
Drowned in Sound
If the name David Ward doesn’t mean anything to you today, it soon will.
…The album is graceful, mature, other worldy and hypnotic, often in the same verse.
…Golden Future Time is a voyage through the mists and vapors of terrain that only Van Morrison and Sun Ra have plowed.
Ward…render(s) a piece of music that hints towards a timelessness lacking in many of his peers…Golden Future Time is a bravely ambitious recording by a gifted songwriter and, despite having clear markers in the 70s’, 80s’ and 90s’, one that seems both out of time and entirely without time; as though it’s all those decades at once—or just a memory of them.
Anyone who melds the tenor of Stevie Wonder into the falsetto of Jeff Buckley and the yips of Michael Jackson (the results of which are tethered to waves of psychedelia) is either genius or Gubu…On paper there’s no way it should work; listening to it a few times in a row, however, it works like a dream.
****4 out of 5 stars
David Ward, that has been described as a cross between Stevie Wonder and Jeff Buckley, has released a new track and it’s killer. The track – ‘Slowly Through The Night’ is one that certainly cannot be missed, it’s got edge, passion, melody and a somewhat comforting sound about it.
Seen it Heard it
Staff writer at DIY. Words about music for The Guardian, London in Stereo, The 405 & Notion Magazine.
There’s no denying that David Ward has a gift that many would die for; it’s something special that really can’t be ignored!
Ward’s words are far beyond his time. Penning lyrics of suffocating sadness and nabbing the need of self-preservation, Ward grasps the horns of the future and rams them into overdrive…It’s an extraordinary listen. If one thing’s for definite, soon enough the sunshine of the world will soak him up, shake him out and plant his name rolling from everybody’s tongues.
…the latest track to be culled from the record, ‘Lost’…it’s a slow-burning treat…
À la façon d’une poupée russe que l’on ouvrirait pour découvrir une poupée encore plus belle que la précédente, Golden Future Time se révèle lumineux et unique. Au final, on se retrouve, une fois ces sept poupées dévoilées, avec un diamant brut d’une grande valeur.
****4 out of 5 stars
The future is golden and so is this album.
In just one listen its immediately apparent that the measured beauty explored and instilled within this second full length reveals an astute aural alchemy at work whose depth, poise and realization of craft is simply exquisite.
Daring, different, and definitely outside the box. David Ward from Vancouver, Canada, has created an exciting playground for his imagination and versatility to basically run wild across the field…Ward’s future is so bright that you need to wear shades while listening to Golden Future Time.
David Ward stays impressively eccentric on Golden Future Time. If one thing remains constant, it’s that the dude can totally sing…
The Georgia Straight
At just under a perfect thirty minutes ‘Golden Future Time’ works because Ward is not only a remarkable singer but because he has the confidence to take risks…never losing sight of his ultimate goal. Which is surely to make music that not only moves the mind but the body too.
Praise for The Arrival Trilogy
Each EP distinguishes itself sonically from its counterparts, and the overall package boils down to one heck of a journey.
At times it sounds like Amnesiac-era Radiohead if they had used more electric guitar…
This is an ambitious album for Ward and one that pays off spectacularly. The decision to split the album into three parts does not interrupt the album’s flow; rather, it seamlessly integrates a broad theme into three smaller themes to create a stunning package.
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*
From the Departures through to the Arrivals, David Ward’s latest musical venture was a definite success. The Arrivals gave this incredibly talented musician, vocalist, and artist the opportunity to showcase the variety and range in his musical abilities. Getting to go on this journey was definitely an amazing musical experience and I can’t wait to go on it again!
Few artists utilize space in their music quite like David Ward. The Vancouver singer/songwriter’s newest EP titled Arrivals is a three-part assemblage that demonstrates his versatile talent – he easily maneuvers the perimeter of several genres, moving in and out of a style that fuses hints of blues, folk, and soul into a sometimes haunting, sometimes isolated sound. It’s this inability to really peg him down that sustains the vibrancy in his music.
The personal voyage we’ve shared settles like sand on the bottom of a river. The Arrival, as a whole, is subtlety, innovation, and exploration all in one. It draws itself backward and becomes an objective template for every one of our own journeys, the trials and mistakes we’re fated to encounter, and the eventual moment when we arrive.
…the thing that struck me about this song [The Arrival] was the themes I hear in it of constantly being on the move, trying to slow down enough to make connections, and the difficult balance between these two forces that pull us in seemingly opposite directions. This is a rich field to harvest for the songwriter. And in this case, the razor-keen slide playing, and keening vocals don’t hurt either.
The Delete Bin
There’s that adage that the destination isn’t important, that the journey is what matters in the end, and that is a concept that Ward runs with in these releases with great success. It’s hard to pinpoint what the musical influences are; the press packet lists the usual suspects, but there’s something else there . . . an influence that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s in this very way that the music sounds both fresh and yet familiar all at the same time without feeling as though we’ve gone down this road before.
Deluxe folk-pop from Canuck vocal acrobat
Imagine Jeff Buckley’s untethered falsetto with Stevie Wonder’s warm, grainy tenor. Vancouver-based-singer-songwriter and theatre school graduate David Ward has mastered both, plus all points between. Divided into three sections, The Arrival consists of airy acoustic arrangements peppered with tricksy beat-skipping time signatures, from the silky Laurel Canyon folk-pop cascade of “No More Troubles Under the Sun” to the easy-breezy-sunshine-soul of “Sweet Girl”…Ward is clearly a versatile and ambitious talent.
Ward’s lush, honeyed vocals are easily the record’s outstanding element, and the odd mixture of influences in the Arrival often sounds something like Radiohead…as fronted by the young Michael Jackson. It’s particularly effective on tracks like Lost in Translation, which blends his soulful vocals with spiraling, angsty guitar crescendos.
Ward has the ability to move effortlessly from one genre to another, whilst maintaining his own voice. The soaring vocals of ‘Alice Blue’, the gentle tranquility of ‘Feel This Way’ and the lightness of ‘The Deepest Blue’.
The Arrival, although bite-sized, is a staggering accomplishment. From the loose, ethereal groove of “Sweet Girl” (its haunting vocal lines peg this as a standout single for 2012), the arresting title track and the sombre “The Deepest Blue”, the collection aches and sways with a musical and emotional astuteness on par with Van Morrison’s mystic 1970s records.
Features | Live Show
…he cut an impressive figure of maturity and calm. No small feat for a guy on the eve of a tour. But when he hit the stage, Ward dug into the shit with intensity and focus.
Backed by a solid quartet, Ward played an impressive 60-minute set of accomplished, sinewy jams. …Ward was relaxed in his banter but forceful in his musical delivery.
Clearly, there is something unique about Ward. As is evident from the three EPs he has released this year, his muse is shining bright.
Vancouver Weekly – Jason Motz
So what should one expect from a David Ward live show? Well, according to the man himself, his favourite songs to play change as the line-up of his band does…David seems to live and breathe his dream of musical collaboration and community, and each performance is organically created by the people involved.
The build-ups to each song are beautiful and lushly layered, each part of the set thoughtfully arranged and all performers showcased during the extended musical breaks…his genuine love and need to make music is clear throughout the set, which is over way too soon.