The Liam Ward Band – Uprising
Green Bullet Records
CD: 10 Songs, 45:38 Minutes
Styles: Harmonica Blues, R&B, All Original Songs, Debut Album
When it comes to this magazine’s favorite genre, many fans prefer one instrument above all else. Some favor guitar, others horns, and still others low-down bass. In the case of the UK’s Liam Ward Band, it’s tailor-made for harmonica lovers, with one caveat. The ensemble aspect of Uprising, their debut release, makes it a bit difficult to concentrate on Ward’s harp. As for his lead vocals, they’re as deadpan (and distracting) as comedian Steven Wright’s style of delivery. Nevertheless, Liam and his posse play real, reliable blues. Despite their stylish outfits displayed on the CD’s inside cover, they’re more like gritty construction workers, laying tracks down brick by brick, constructing a solid album but laying off the fancy architecture. All ten songs are originals, with the third track co-written by Liam Ward and M. Harrison.
The Liam Ward Band are an electric R&B outfit from South Wales, playing original blues that incorporates elements of jazz, rock and funk. Uprising, being their first offering, consists of compositions pushing the traditional boundaries of the medium. Imagine plenty of Paul de Lay’s originality, a dash of Santana’s rhythm and a healthy dollop of William Clarke’s West Coast swing. The album was recorded at Sonic One Studios and mastered at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London. One of the UK’s most revered harmonica players, front man Liam is a winner of the National Harmonica League Player of the Year award, and has been described by Harmonica World as “endlessly inventive”. His harmonica style is a blistering blend of traditional and unconventional, producing a modern sound that is truly his own.
The rest of the band comprises stalwarts of the British blues scene. On guitar, respected and creative soloist Matt Jones brings his jazzy chops to the party. The bass player’s bass player, Martin Hill, is known for his quirky and melodic method, and sought-after drum ace Gareth Davies is one of the best percussionists in the business.
Guest musicians include Bobby Cole on piano and keyboards; The West Coast Horns on saxophone and trumpet, and background vocalists Helen Hart, Bryony-Rose, executive producer Keith Gough, and recorder/mixer Tim Hamill.
The following song is the best traditional selection presented on Ward’s first foray.
Track 07: “Filthy Rich” – As much as many of us would like to be millionaires or billionaires, the mean green has a way of corrupting people, things, and life itself. “Baby, all your money? Make it quick. It’ll make you feel funny, and it’ll make you sick. Oh, you got filthy rich.” Ward’s hot harmonica is best showcased here, with the foreground instruments content to remain in their due place. “Filthy Rich” may not break a lot of new ground in terms of rhythm or lyrical content, but it is catchy. Think of it as a cautionary tale to knock back a fancy IPA beer to.
The Liam Ward Band provides a dependable debut, if not a full-fledged Uprising in harp blues!