Album Review: Ward Richmond – Highly Meditated

“I was walking down a crowded street one night and suddenly I realized I might like being alone/I might have read a few psychosemantic expert books/I once passed a science test a took/so I think I’ll be alright on my own.” Well, have I got a pandemic for you! Everything comes across like a tongue-in-cheek kids song celebrating introversion and self-reliance – although the f-bomb is fairly adult, of course!

Photo Credit: Will von Bolton

In Europe tells truths about, and pokes a little fun at, American bands crossing the Atlantic to join the touring circuit. Richmond speaks from experience, having been a rock musician after his high school football career and before his stint as a real estate mogul.

High Road continues the mix of stories and humour, celebrating trying over perfection.

Tina Louise has some interesting guitar work, but still an approachable, sometimes simplistic, vocal and lyrical style. This guy could have a career in children’s music in the vein of Nick Cope and They Might Be Giants as long as he loses the swears and drug references!

His approach is reminiscent of Matt The Electrician so it’s interesting to see that Ward Richmond also sings about West Texas in Shootin’ For The Stars.

Live Oak celebrates community and continuity “at the bar on the corner with the smokers on the front porch drinking in the rocking chairs,” which is contrasted with and paralleled with the narrator’s own transition from unemployment to a hardworking life.

Smile has a Weezer vibe, blending an indie aesthetic with a pop-punk tempo. Notably, the album was recorded with members of The Texas Gentlemen.

Hey Levi references Elvis and Southern rock topics and tempos with a little too much gusto for a seemingly laidback song, verging on imitation rather than flattery.

I Need A Water Fountain blends Southern rock with the pop punk vibe we saw earlier, this time with a Stacey’s Mom kind of vibe. It’s interesting to see yet another reference to gold to describe an emotion or state of mind; ‘good as gold’ in this instance.

Photo Credit: Will von Bolton

The admission “I feel like I’m about 25 but I’m going on 41” in These Days make things click for an album which sounds like it’s written both by and for a younger man. He’s given up a lot of vices for the sake of his family and his health, and he’s ambivalent about coming to terms with the fact that “these days the nights don’t last so long.” Addressing these things head on comes off a lot more successful than the references peppered elsewhere that seem somewhat anachronistic.

Keeping the insight and honesty while losing the (EXPLICIT) songs would set Richmond up for popularity with a younger audience, but where would be the fun in that for adults?

Highly Meditated is out now.