101

Robert Ward: New Role Soul

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Robert Ward set an awfully high benchmark with his 1990 release Fear No Evil, a comeback album now considered a classic. New Role Soul is the work of a somewhat mellower man who remains an incredible musician at age 64. Propelled by the leader’s intricate guitar playing and animated vocals, this CD sounds better with each spin.

Ward has perfected one of the most original guitar sounds in the blues, thanks in part to his use of Magnatone amplifier. His singing is equally distinctive, though more of an acquired taste. There’s no question the man pours a lot of soul into his music.

New Role Soul contains nine original songs — including three by Ward’s wife Roberta and six by the guitarist himself – as well as four covers. The lyrics convey a sort of mystical optimism, while the music is funky, earthy and pleasingly unconventional.

The tracks "Put Yourself In My Place," "Never Found A Girl" and "Don’t Make No Sense" revisit Ward’s R&B background. (After helping to found the band that eventually became the Ohio Players, Ward was lead guitarist with the seminal soul band the Falcons, and later a session guitarist for Motown Records.) Two of the aforementioned cuts feature a fine four-piece horn section.

Two instrumental tracks — the funky original "Chicken Jerk" and Kenny Burrell’s "Chittlins Con Carne" — present Ward’s guitar prowess in dissimilar formats. The former track shows off that exquisite watery tone Ward displayed so effectively on Fear No Evil. The lengthy slow-blues "Whichever I Receive" flows along like liquid gold. It’s marked by some expressive exchanges between Ward and organ player Kevin McKendree, who also impresses on other cuts. The transcendently soulful "Peace of Mind," and "I Come to Save You" convey a sense of spirituality without too much sermonizing.

Robert Ward is the rare blues guitarist who has developed a truly original style, and New Role Soul is one of his best recordings.

| Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Blues


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read Numbers CD/LP/Track Review Numbers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 30, 2017
Read The Busker CD/LP/Track Review The Busker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 30, 2017
Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 30, 2017
Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Deep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "Left" CD/LP/Track Review Left
by John Sharpe
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Astrometrics" CD/LP/Track Review Astrometrics
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Steelonious" CD/LP/Track Review Steelonious
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 6, 2017
Read "Mist. Moss. Home." CD/LP/Track Review Mist. Moss. Home.
by Jim Olin
Published: April 10, 2017

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!