British sisters Ward Thomas have been at the forefront of a new wave of British country acts that are starting to have a big impression on the UK’s country loving community. Hailing from Hampshire the twenty-one year old twins Lizzy and Catherine have toured with The Shires, played festivals such as Yeehaw and Country 2 Country and recorded in Nashville.
From Where We Stand is the debut album from the duo and was released in 2014.
Kicking off with the lively Push For The Stride the album really gets going at breakneck speed. Musically it has a lot in common with some old rock and roll songs which it’s overdriven guitar and tinkling piano lines leading the song. It’s the perfect introduction to Ward Thomas and sets out their stall and ambition from the get go.
Way Back When is a song that, when I first heard it on Chris Country radio, I thought was a hit from the 60’s. It’s very similar in mood to the opener Push For The Stride and harks back a few decades before the sisters were born to the swinging 60’s and 70’s. It’s a great tip of the hat to the bands influences. The vocals from the two are superb and again the lead guitar playing plays a major role in pushing the track along with a lovely guitar solo in the middle.
Things mellow out a little on the third track Footnotes (Happy Ending) which is a more subdued acoustic number. This song really highlights the talent that the two have for observational and reflective songwriting as they sing about people watching and thinking over ones path in life. At such a young age it really conveys the fact that the length of the journey in front of the duo is clear to them.
The Good and the Right picks up the pace again on the album. Again the song is based on observational writing. The duos harmonies really stick out on this song as they sing the chorus together. The song certainly has a lot of bite to it and again has big guitars in the music driving it along.
The piano driven title track From Where We Stand is up next. This is a tender song with great vocals. After some really rocking opening songs on the album this is a great opportunity to really lower the volume and give the sisters great vocals a chance to shine.
Take That Train is a song written about an actual train journey where a fellow passenger decided to tell her life story. This type of song is another example of how the duo has such a great affinity for writing music based on real life. It gives the song a huge amount more life because you can really tell it’s coming from the heart. Again the girl’s harmonies are great and the song is a nice mid-tempo tune.
Guest List is another mid-tempo song with a nice sing-a-long chorus. It’s guitar riff which plays throughout is a nod to the more ‘poppy’ side of country music.
With Try we go back into the territory of piano driven ballads. Again, this provides a great opportunity for the girls to show off their strong vocal talents. It’s another uplifting song that carries a lot of resonance considering the girls efforts to break the world of country music.
Wasted Words again has a mid-tempo feel to it and by now I feel like I’m ready for something a little more upbeat again. There is a lovely slide guitar playing over this song that adds great atmosphere. It’s a great song so don’t let my comments detract from that – I just feel it’s time for some more of that rocking stuff we heard at the start of the record!
Company pretty much continues where the last song left off before the penultimate track Caledonia. This is a song that has become a live favourite and again showcases some brilliant vocals. I’m not 100% sure what connection to Scotland the girls from Hampshire have but I’m sure it’s there!
The album ends with the song I have been waiting for Town Called Ugley. This another great upbeat country number with fantastic musicianship being showcased throughout. The song itself is based on the true story of when the girls got lost in the actual town of Ugley. It’s a great number with some superb guitar work from none other than Vince Gill. Definitely a favourite of mine on the album and a great song to finish on!
1. Push For The Stride
2. Way Back When
3. Footnotes (Happy Ending)
4. The Good And The Right
5. From Where We Stand
6. Take That Train
7. Guest List
9. Wasted Words
12. Town Called Ugley
This is a really strong debut from the two sisters and definitely gives signs that they are going places. It straddles the border between country and folk at times with a mix of upbeat rock tunes, quiet acoustic and some mid-tempo. The duo are clearly becoming highly accomplished song writers and their knack for spotting a song in every day life is brilliant. My only criticism of the album is that it does slow down quite a lot towards the last third before Town Called Ugley hits us square in the face! This is a really good album and shows a lot of promise which certainly justifies the hype surrounding the duo.
Push For The Stride, Way Back When, Town Called Ugley
Six Shooter Rating
7.5 out of 10
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We recently caught up with the Ward Thomas sisters for a chat. Read it here.