Record Review: Contemporary Folk Singer-Songwriter Gordon Thomas Ward’s ‘Whispers From The Woods’

In a brilliant interweaving of folk, Americana, and ethereal indie music, accomplished songwriter and adept storyteller Gordon Thomas Ward exhibits his connection with earth and his journey on it in his new album, Whispers from the Woods, which dropped today September 1st.

Following his previous album, Eiderdown, which we discussed with him back in 2020, this project touches more into a folklore and earthly perspective both musically and lyrically. 

The project expresses a natural inspiration with refined instrumentation including crystalline acoustic guitar and string ensembles in some songs, while also incorporating themes of modern rock and blues in others, where licks of electric guitar drive the melody home. This diversity of musicianship is combined with insightful lyrics about paying tribute to your past and having an appreciation for the people that play important roles in your life. 

To introduce the album, Ward draws in his listeners with new dawn sounds and a brief spoken word excerpt during the first track, “Whispers from the Woods.”

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The song sets the tone for the album with a delicate acoustic guitar and woodwind introduction that transitions into the more upbeat main theme of the piece. The epic song is divided into sections, broken up by dazzling electric guitar solos and thematic instrumental changes. As the longest track on the album with an impressive 11-minute time stamp, the song tells the story of the human relationship to nature and where Ward believes we’re headed. 

Ward’s whimsical lyricism and folklore-inspired strings in the fifth track, “Brilliant,” is a light shining bright around the middle of the album. Upon the first seconds of the song, it’s immediately possible to hear the heavier folk-inspired element of his artistry as the song is driven by melodic, acoustic instrumentation. His uplifting lyrics paired with layered harmonies and intricate violin solos bring the listener to feel the enkindling of positivity he intended. 

Ward teams up with bluegrass picker Abbie Gardner, who can be heard with her Dobro on songs “The Gift” and “Fly.” Both songs combine a traditional rock melody with bluesy instrumentation for an old-style feel that defies the test of time.

“The Gift” discusses how no matter what part of your life you’re in, there will be moments that make you lose track of time and how those stick with you the most. In “Fly”, Ward addresses debated themes of citizenship and stresses the importance to recognize that everyone has roots in immigration.

Ward closes the project with the piano-driven ballad “Evening Bell.” Accompanied by emotional strings and a thoughtful melody, he sings about all the moments in life that may be taken for granted, and how he wishes to relive those moments when the time wasn’t pressing and life felt its most natural.  

With this album, Gordon Thomas Ward hopes to communicate a journey filled with honesty, imagery, and emotion that listeners from all walks of life can resonate with, and it appears he did just that. There is a song on Whispers From the Woods for everyone to feel connected to as we navigate our own paths on this earth.

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