Artist: The Warden
Produced by: Idol Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Out in Dallas, Texas, there lives a musician named Ward Richmond who has become a fixture in the music scene with bands like Slick 57 and Boys Named Sue. Playing bass, writing songs, managing, vocals - you name it, Ward's done it. Now, after almost two decades spent performing in bands, The Warden has created a solo self-titled project.
Inspired by the birth of his daughter, Betty Sue, Ward Richmond began writing songs, recording them with his acoustic guitar on his iPhone. Upon hearing the tracks, Robert Jayson Vandygriff, friend and long time musician, talked Ward Richmond into creating a solo album and the rest is history.
Performed in a honky-tonk/hillbilly country style, the songs of The Warden are basically a memoir of the past fifteen years of Ward Richmond's life. Though Ward himself is not a very strong vocalist, he harmonizes well with the likes of Madison King, Leslie McDonel and John Pedigo, who all appear on tracks in the album. Lyrics speak of being down on your luck, drunk and poor. Some tracks are love songs, mostly about love lost.
I, for one, loved the country storytelling style of the lyrics which reminded me a bit of Brad Paisley and the way he pokes fun at himself. Country fans will know what I am talking about - how Paisley often pokes fun at his humble beginnings and directs your attention to a time that was simpler and often just as satisfying. That's the style of the songs on The Warden.
The album doesn't just have great lyrics, but some terrific country sound thanks to performances by Ward and his friends, including Chad Stockslager, Bruce Alford, Dan Phillips and Burton Lee. Some of my favorite tracks include Deny Deny Deny for its hysterical lyrics, Bullets for that old-style country sound, County Line and its gritty sound coupled with some pretty funny lyrics and the rocking sounds of High Life.
The Warden represents some good country fun with lyrics that tell a story, often one that makes you laugh, and music that will have you tapping your hands on the table and stamping your feet.