Album Review: Jake Ward – “Sounds With Intention”

When approaching new music within the pop genre, it’s easy to do so with inherent cynicism. It seems that within the current culture of pop music, we as listeners are exposed to the same formulaic, cookie cutter, copy of a copy of a copy brand of artists. These types of artists have brilliantly perfected the ability to produce safe, catchy, and ultimately forgettable tunes.

With that being said, Jake Ward is a wonderfully refreshing exception.

Intro track “If You Leave Me Alone” opens the EP as an immediate standout. The track begins with radio frequency white noise of someone searching the airwaves, which serves as a brilliant starting point for an emotive declaration of the need for companionship and the fear of loneliness and the unknown. The track is fantastically sequenced in a way that maintains the listener’s interest, and contains minor mixing and instrumental intricacies that are both unique and add undeniable character to the track.

Segueing seamlessly into “I Don’t really Know”, Ward really showcases his vocal prowess and displays a strong command of pop vocal melodies and lush harmonies. With the subtle and effective backing of electronic piano and engaging percussion, Ward proves that his voice may just be one his strongest assets. His vocal performance is authentic and invokes a strong emotional response with his pained delivery of the relatable line “but I really don’t know you at all, do I?”

The lively follow-up track “Make it Right” opens with dance inducing percussion. The track progresses by falling back and forth between melodic and calm sections, and spirited dynamic sections. This track beautifully marries pensive thoughtfulness with lines like “is this the real me, or is it just a lie?”, while progressing into the more anthemic declaration “I’m gonna make it right tonight, oh I’m gonna make it right tonight”.

My personal favorite on the EP is “Never Letting Go”. Opening with the gentle picking of a clean electric guitar, the track bursts into an emotional and powerful ballad with gentle and effective synth/string backing with impactful drums and percussion. The track captures your heart with the relatable message of never letting go of the ones you love. Perhaps the most impactful section comes towards the end of the track with the repeated line, “I will bring you back, bring you back to life”.

The final track “Picture Perfect” is an irresistibly catchy acoustic guitar accompanied pop ballad on the surface. The track is about being loved by the “picture perfect girl”, but has a remarkably deeper meaning that is not often found in straight forward pop music. Ward discusses the power of love, and how you don’t choose it; rather it chooses you. The “Picture Perfect” girl can exist subjectively, but love transcends vanity.

Listening to Jake Ward’s “Sounds With Intention” was truly an engaging and worthwhile experience. It is appropriately titled, as this differs from most pop releases in that this EP exudes “intention”, integrity, honesty, and emotional awareness. Not only is it polished and meticulously crafted, but it is sequenced to perfecting, leaving the listener wanting more. For a debut release, Wade has absolutely knocked this one out of the park. I definitely see this artist climbing the ranks and becoming a household name. Not only does he have the ability to craft infectious pop hooks and melodies, but he does so with a remarkably unique blending of genres and evident care for messaging and content.

SMP rates this release 5/5

Stream his debut EP “Sounds With Intention” here:

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