September 29, 2021

Ward White: The Tender Age

Art-rock crooner Ward White loves a bit of mystery, getting the listener on the wrong with foot with top shelf use of lyrical imagery. His flawless phrasing - a mix of David Bowie and Russell Mael - and stylish rock leanings put his latest album The Tender Age in the tradition of the mid-seventies, when suits became a thing again and it was OK to be tough in a smooth guise. He has been working with ace session players drummer Mark Stepro and keyboardist Tyler Chester for many years, so recording was a breeze.

White is never in a hurry, singing his songs in at a leisurely pace, with the rockers On Foot and Wasn’t It Here as showcases for old school power chords. He is a storyteller, but it is never straight from A to B. He takes twists and turns, setting the scene with a striking image -"Every Methodist in Holcomb blistered by the pox of deceit huddled around their oil drum fire and I thought 'easy meat'" - and cutting to the next one in the next verse. There are not that many great songs about teeth, but White adds not one, but two of them to the shortlis. Chet Baker has a cameo in Dentures, and Karate Dentist is about a man who can't help falling in love, so it makes sense that he threw in a bit of George Harrison's guitar tone.

The Tender Age is an album that should be enjoyed as a whole, an artifact waiting to be discovered and cherished by anyone who has the required attention span and enjoys superb musicianship and lyrical wit. The songs sparkle and purr, thanks to the skills of engineer John Spiker who did the mix, and Joe Lambert, who took care of the mastering, .

Ward White: vocals, guitars, bass
Mark Stepro: drums, percussion
Tyler Chester: keyboards

The Tender Age is a self-released album. Buy it (CD, digital) from his website. Release date: October 8.

Tracks:
  1. Dirty Clouds
  2. Easy Meat
  3. Let’s Don’t Die at the Stoplight
  4. Dentures
  5. On Foot
  6. The Tender Age
  7. Gail, Where’s Your Shoes?
  8. Wasn’t It Here
  9. Heavy Lifting
  10. Karate Dentist
  11. Monrovia

» wardwhite.net

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