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CD REVIEW: Diane Ward, "The Great Impossible"
By David Lockeretz - 03/19/2003 - 11:45 PM EST

Artist: Diane Ward
Album: "The Great Impossible"
CD Review: Diane Ward has a strong voice and is backed by competent musicians. Her lyrics are vivid and powerful and the music is understated but also insistent. Yet, somehow the promising parts don't quite add up to a convincing whole.

This is a very dark CD: Ward's songs talk of high school violence, devastating fires, relationships that have gone wrong and more less-than-uplifting topics. There's nothing wrong with that, of course; perhaps it is a welcome contrast to the mercilessly happy pop that surrounds us, especially as sung by some of Ward's contemporaries such as Faith Hill, Shania Twain and the latest incarnation of Sheryl Crow. But ultimately, Ward's songwriting has a Sally Struthers type feel to it; it becomes more a tribute to suffering than an insight into humanity.

Tightening up the songwriting might help. "Don't Fall Away" is the longest song on the CD, clocking in at seven minutes and change, much of which is devoted to a brooding instrumental coda that could have easily been shortened. Similarly, the opening track, "Wide Awake", repeats a lot of its material for no real reason.

Where Ward shows real promise is in more uptempo material such as "Shooting Rockets" and "Fade", both of which demonstrate radio friendliness without sacrificing quality or depth of expression, and the peaceful acoustic number "Baby Look Up" bears a touch of Joni Mitchell, and even in spirit resembles some of John Lennon's more optimistic solo work.

Since Ward can obviously be happy without being trite, heading in that direction might help her achieve more notoriety. Nothing wrong with the depressing stuff, but to paraphrase James Dickey, after experiencing a depressing work, the listener should be able to leap up, renewed. After listening to this CD the only thing that leapt up was the lid of the boom box after I pressed the "eject" button.

For more information about Diane Ward, visit www.dianeward.com.


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