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.
Earlier this year, Jake Ward released one of the finest independent country rock records I’ve reviewed in quite some time, ‘Love Don’t Live Here.’ The record is an impeccable one for a simple reason: it creates a country rock atmosphere I actually want to hear. It isn’t inundated with cliches or kitschy lyricism. The single from the album is ‘Take My Hand,’ a song that in many ways, exemplifies the excellence of ‘Love Don’t Live Here.’ Let’s dig into the single.
‘Love Don’t Live Here’ is an experience that feels conceptual in nature, moving from a downtrodden view of love to a more uplifting, hopeful mentality. ‘Take My Hand’ is the turning point on the record for that. It’s a love ballad of epic proportions, building with Phil Spector-esque walls of sound, all subsiding and igniting throughout to create a rollercoaster of a tune. Ward’s optimism is infectious, painting him as an Aladdin-like figure, holding out his hand to ‘show you the world’ on his magic carpet.
Lyrically, the piece is a love ballad that is immensely endearing, even if it doesn’t introduce any particularly new themes to the style of writing that kind of song. Instrumentally, it exhibits the instrumental prowess that made me so incredibly complimentary of Jake Ward and company when I first tackled their full record. It’s true country rock instrumentation with real strings, a rollicking percussion section, and a wonderfully pleasant atmosphere.
The song also stands tall amidst a sea of independent country music because it’s very well produced. Everything in the song is so well mixed and mastered; no instrument feels out of place and the vocals are mixed perfectly without being overbearing - two pitfalls independent artists are all too keen to accidentally fall into.
‘Take My Hand’ is a superb single, and since it’s buried pretty deep into ‘Love Don’t Live Here,’ you’d find yourself best served by digging into everything on the album prior to it as well. While it may not be the most lyrically inventive endeavor, it is a lovable one that is very much worth your time.