David Ward – The Arrival
Split into three sections of three songs each, which collectively forward a thematic progression, The Arrival is, essentially, a concept LP. Couple that with Ward’s Jeff Buckley-influenced guitar work, and you might expect a fairly adventurous, grandiose record. The concept is, however, pretty vacuous, detailing the three stages of a journey (Departures; Borders; Arrivals), and those guitar parts are held firmly within the confines of generic soul and rock.
Ward’s lush, honeyed vocals are easily the record’s outstanding element, and the odd mixture of influences that underpins The Arrival often sounds something like Radiohead, circa The Bends, as fronted by the young Michael Jackson. It’s particularly effective on tracks like Lost in Translation, which blends his soulful vocals with spiralling, angsty guitar crescendos. On more downtempo songs like Feel This Way, however, that emotional weight is lost, and the lack of depth or complexity guiding the record’s thematic approach feels uncomfortably exposed.