Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
Last year, I penned several reviews of Jake Ward’s music here on the Independent Spotlight, all of which were remarkably positive. He’s a fine indie country rock artist, and he’s exhibited some impressive versatility in his tunes. His latest endeavor is entitled ‘Lonely Street,’ and it was co-written by Kris Bergsnes, his cousin. Ward and Bergsnes were only recently united via mutual relatives, and as a result, working on the song with a family member has concreted its importance for Ward. Does it stack up against his previous work, though? Let’s dig in and find out.
‘Lonely Street’ proved difficult for Ward to sing because of its array of themes. “It’s country but soulful,” he explains. “We’re all a short walk from Lonely Street.” The song is a spiritual partner to Elvis’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ in some ways, since Ward’s Lonely Street is where you’ll find the metaphorical hotel. This space means that Ward has to carry himself similarly to Elvis - with passion that’s haphazardly mixed with loneliness and abandon. He does that very well.
‘Lonely Street,’ as I expected from Ward, is superbly performed. His band is in fine form, and the instrumental execution of the track is fantastic. On the production end, the track sounds great, but some small tinkering in the mix could probably improve it even more. At times, Ward’s vocals are mixed a bit too sharp, while the rest of the instruments overpower him. I don’t think this is a fault of the performance or composition, some levels would just do well to be sorted out in the mix.
Lyrically, Ward and Bergsnes have penned a beautiful tune. It’s simplistic enough to be anthemic and relatable, but poetic enough to harness the heartfelt sentiment that went into its composition. There’s also a sense of hope that ‘Lonely Street’ is wrapped in. There’s a reassurance to the idea that you aren’t the only one on Lonely Street, which as Ward mentioned above, is certainly the case.
‘Lonely Street’ is a fantastic entry into Jake Ward’s catalog. With a few very tiny mix changes, it could be even better. As a lyrical effort, Bergsnes and Ward prove immensely compatible, and should make a point of continuing their collaboration. I’d love to see an album of the duo’s songwriting. It would undoubtedly be Jake Ward’s best work yet.