Jim Ward’s is a voice that hums even as it sings, carries the tones of a dusty folkie, and retreats with each word it loses to the air. The former Sparta frontman/At the Drive-In member’s first full-length solo effort, Quiet in the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins, brims with classic American themes of home, tradition, and belonging, but the roots do not limit Ward or where he takes his sound. With echoing guitars that are played behind tambourines and electronic flourishes, Quiet is creatively composed. And lyrically, it provides Ward plenty of room to shine. On “Waves in Spanish,” Ward cautiously tells a story that starts and ends, “There’s a hole in the ground for my body, but you cannot bury me … There’s a hole in the ground with my body, but you can’t bury memories.” This is poignant stuff, meticulously dressed in Americana trappings.


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