The album feels to be stuck in the process of a band's transition to me
Some vocals are just not sufficiently balanced.
Ward Thomas are one of the most successful British country music acts. On 9th October, one week after they originally intended release date, the siblings released Invitation, their fourth studio album.
Ward Thomas – About The Artists
Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas are twins. They were born on 28th March 1994. Even through there has not been a real single charts success, their 2014 debut album From Where We Stand already topped the UK country charts. Their biggest success was Cartwheels, however. Released on 2nd September 2016, it has been the first UK country album to hit the (overall) Number One spot in the British charts. Restless Minds (2019) could not connect to it, but it also placed in the Top 10 of the British album charts.
Ward Thomas – Invitation – Track by Track
The 14 title album lasts 44 minutes.
1. Sweet Time
Rhythmic, soft-footed, a bit of summery – Sweet Time is really hiding the country music background of the Ward Thomas twin very well – it is even more reggae or funk than country to much. I can’t say this song is too late in October, as they released it as a single before the album. Nice pop music, but it does not touch me too much.
2. Don’t Be a Stranger
Lover, don’t be a stranger Don’t you say a word, just pull me in Stranger, come be my lover Come discover me all over again
This song (at least) has a country-alike rhythm. The way it is made up, it is rather a pop song as well. I would love to hear that one some one octave lower – but when the girl go for the low tunes in here, the voice is just too unremarkable.
3. Open Your Mind
The catchy track Open Your Mind illustrates part of the struggle I have with Invitation. First of all, Ward Thomas are excellent singers, no doubt. They work with harmonies in a fantastic way throughout the album – but finally, they too often get stuck in very high notes. Is that their comfort zone? I would love to hear more from them in other levels as well.
Regarding the critics I just wrote on Open Your Mind, Someday is somehow closer to what I am looking for. Some of the verses have rather low parts – I feel it is much nicer when they move through different levels.
5. Meant to Be Me
I did not use the word country music too much any more – for a simple reason: the album so far has hardly any country music touch. Meant to Be Me has some sort of country music vibe, but again in a very different musical environment. Still one of my favorites of that album.
6. Dear Me
1:48 minutes of vocal beauty: Dear Me is a capella and is to me one of the highlights of the album to me. Unfortunately, it acts more like an interlude.
7. Hold Space
You view it from the valley and it’s crowding your style Everybody’s shouting out advice You’ve been down every alley in denial All that I can do is empathise so
I’m just gonna hold space I know that I can’t change it Or go and make it okay so I’m just gonna hold space
The song is again quite simplistic. I like the way it is arranged and done – maybe because it (too) strongly reminds of the early Ward Thomas years.
8. Wait Up
Wait Up just is a song which makes you move. The chorus is a bit like a summer track, but the overall songwriting is deeper. The only thing which sometimes makes me angry is that right when I am in the groove, the girls are deciding to go for a short stopping in the song. Still, a very nice one.
9. My Favorite Poison
The very solid atmosphere with classic string background melody introduces a very new atmosphere to this album. The song is very present and you just have to listen to it.
10. Painted Legacy
In general, this part of the album is by far the strongest to me. While I was already struggling how to explain to my British readers that I have to destroy one of their (country) national treasures in this review, the band creates more interesting facets in here. Painted Legacy, however, is rather an average track to me.
11. If There Were Words
That’s the destiny of a music reviewer, especially if you listen to music around or right after release date: I just said that the middle block of the album is my favorite one – but obviously, this block ended now – If There Were Words too strongly connects to the beginning of the album to me.
12. Halfway (with James Blunt)
The album finishes with three tracks, which are somehow related to other tracks. The first one is Halfway, in which the twins are supporting James Blunt. A happy sounding track – and to me by far the best of this final triple of special tracks.
13. Human (live with Jack Savoretti)
Jack Savoretti performs Human by The Killers in Wembley, supported by the Ward Thomas sisters – that’s about the story of the thirteenth track of Invitation. This one is strong matter of taste. The three musicians turn the rock track into a very slow acoustic guitar track, in which Ward Thomas even feels to play a stronger role than the original host of the concert. I feel it is a terrible version, it is just too emotional. Maybe you love it… Really matter of taste.
Last, but not least: the album finishes with a Fleetwood Mac cover. The thoughts are similar to Human: you may say that the two vocals and the acoustic guitar lead to a unique, intimate, maybe charming atmosphere. You can also say it is too slow, too soupy, too much. I like Landslide much more than Human, but I nevertheless feel that this version does not offer something I prefer over the original.
Ward Thomas – Invitation – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget to the Invitation:
Ward Thomas – Invitation – My View
That is really a tough review to me: the vocal side of Invitation is definitely the strongest part of the album – Ward Thomas are simply great on the microphone. I, however, don’t know why they went that obtrusively for similar tunes in some of their songs. The album feels to be a metamorphosis of the duo – even if that album will be a great success, I would not name it a country one. You do feel country vibes in there and some tracks also do have very nice-to-listen lyrics. I feel that the change – no matter where it is exactly going to, has not completed yet – and this is also why I strongly struggle with the album: it too strongly feels to me that the girls are stuck in the middle. Thus, I feel that the album is rather in average range – though some other critics give outstanding reviews. Let’s wait for the next Ward Thomas one to see if I was right 😉