[30 April 2008]
The Pacific Northwest isn’t normally thought of as a hotbed of country music, but the region, and in particular the Seattle area, has in fact served as launching pad for the careers of a number of notable country and roots rock singers, including Neko Case, Jesse Sykes, and Brandi Carlile. Add to this list Kristen Ward, whose second album, Drive Away (financed by pre-sales from anticipating fans), follows in the path of those singers and their powerful, plaintive voices and skilled roots songcraft.
Ward’s voice has the deep, warm wistfulness of Caitlin Cary, dashed with Kathleen Edwards’s water-tumbling-over-rocks vocal grit. And while her songs don’t diverge from familiar country tales of loneliness and drunkenness, struggles with faith and with men, and finding oneself on the wrong side of the law, the buoyant guitar hooks that Ward and her backing band wrap around these stories, alongside Ward’s forthright delivery, make Drive Away a deeply satisfying listen.