Singer/songwriter Hailey Ward is coming out swinging with her indie-folk album Not Sorry. A brassy attitude and cheeky lyrics are coated with an ironic sweetness. Ward, a 20-year-old college student from Williston, Vermont, is finishing her education at McNally Smith College of Music in Minnesota.
The basis for the album is one that’s pretty introspective, and let’s face it, there’s no better time than right before you’re finishing college to do that. It deals with self-identity and a healthy amount of reflection on relationships as well. Any college graduate who comes out into the world unapologetically is looking at the world with eyes wide open, and this album is what that would sound like.
Before you can even digest what’s going on, you’ll take note of Ward’s vocal ability. Anyone with any sort of musical training can tell she has had a good education on how to use her muscles. Stunning voice, ripe with intention and conviction. She’s also completely on trend with the powerhouse female singer/songwriters of today. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was mistaken for a few of them.
That voice is armed with these incredible biting lyrics. She has no qualms about dishing out the nitty gritty. You can taste the bitterness of a breakup and the miserable aftermath that can seem to drag on forever. Her words vibrate with frustrations and confusion, and misunderstandings, voice and lyrics are at superhuman strength for her and I loved it. It’s incredibly hard not to smile or smirk at her words, she has turned bluntness into an artform.
Musically the album follows suit with today’s trends, however, it may be a little too close to some of her influences. I enjoyed the intent of the music which ranged from bluesy to sweet and folksy. As I stated before, she could easily be confused for some of today’s bigger artists and so can the music. The instruments are a trio of piano, guitar and ukulele. There are certain tracks that will add extra instruments for spice, however, it didn’t do much to give the music a more unique signature. My other issue with the music was on the production end. Her voice comes through without any problem, and naturally is should be front and center but the music was merely a shadow half of the time. Some of the mixing choices even made certain tracks sound amateurish and diminished the quality of what was there. I definitely understood where the music wanted to take me, and that direction was correct. However, I feel a little more polish and unpredictability could really seal the deal.
There’s so much to love about Not Sorry from the album name itself to the attitude it projects. I really appreciate Ward’s openness to express everything, especially the stuff that not everyone wants to talk about. Again, I cannot begin to express what a powerful and beautiful voice she has. I also think her lyrics are cathartic and good for anyone in the mood to cut through life’s BS.
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