Cait Watters listens to the fifth studio album from the Hampshire twins and mainstays of the UK scene, out now.
Ward Thomas are back with latest album ‘Music In The Madness’, a release that finds them doing what they do best – country, harmonies and country-pop.
The duo – twins, Catherine and Lizzy – have, over the past decade, always found themselves toeing a line between genres. Their debut, From Where We Stand, was unmistakably country. The follow-up, and hugely successful, Cartwheels swayed heavily towards pop and the consequent releases continued to feel more pop-country than country-pop.
Music In The Madness is a return to those early day folksy stylings yet keeps those later poppy vibes along with the usual brilliant harmonies and big choruses that the sisters faultlessly deliver regardless of genre.
And we start off big, with an anthem of a title track that’s surely going to be massive in their sets with loud ‘hey, hey, hey’s. A relevant track, it was written last year as world events took another turn into uncertain times. This song – or, again, anthem – encourages us to look for the light amongst the dark, the tinkling of keys underpinning verses that lead into soaring choruses. ‘Next To You’ follows on nicely, another number with huge singalong potential, more electric keys and a short-but-brilliant guitar riff.
Gentle guitars lead into ‘Love Does’, a number in which Catherine and Lizzy’s vocals particularly shine. ‘I Think I Hate You’ surprisingly features a slip into explicit language on a fun track about a love that wasn’t meant to be, catchy with a brilliant flow.
‘Justice & Mercy’ feels like it is a lost track from their debut, roots dug deep in the country genre here. Once again, there’s a riff here that really catches your ear and I appreciate the focus on the overall sound on the album, not just the gorgeous harmonies.
The only real downside for me, at least, is that it feels like a short album in the sense that five of the twelve tracks have been released prior to the album dropping. This is a very small nitpick, stemming from the fact that I prefer an album to be almost entirely unreleased. But, hey – I still really enjoy the singles from this one.
A cover of Razorlight’s ‘America’ runs the risk of being seen as filler and feeling a little old – this was the first release from this album six months ago. But it’s an enjoyable number all the same, the twangy twist applied enough to distinguish and set it apart from the original. It feels very Ward Thomas, it doesn’t feel out of place.
An absolute standout is ‘Flower Crown’, a song about things changing in the sister’s lives. Catherine recently got married, it is not difficult to see where this song found its inspiration. ‘You were mine before time began/Now we’re somehow making wedding plans/I’m scared to lose you and you understand’ tells the tale and worry that, amongst all these huge life changes, they may drift apart. Ultimately, this will not be the case as the following line underlines that nothing will change – ‘We’re like the diamond shining on your hand, forever’. Their sisterhood has never been stronger.
Ward Thomas are here to stay. This, their fifth album, feels their strongest yet as they bring their various musical directions over the past decade to this – a sweet spot for those who like their country country, and those who like their country on the poppier side.
Ward Thomas – Music In The Madness – Track Listing
- Music In The Madness
- Next To You
- All Over Again
- If It All Ends Today
- Justice & Mercy
- Love Does
- Joan Of Arc
- I Think I Hate You
- Loved By You
- Flower Crown