Jim Ward has had a long association with Australia since touring with At The Drive-In in the now infamous tour of 2001. What might have seemed like a fleeting but eventful entry into the Australian musical psych Jim has returned many times to these shores under a number of musical monikers. Weather as a solo artist, At the Drive-In, Sleepercar or his Texas post-hardcore outfit Sparta, Jim has always created a varied palate of music that crosses genre’s and challenges stereotypical assumptions about his music.
Sparta has revealed a new single Miracle. The track is off the forthcoming new album ‘Trust The River’ which is set for release April 10 via Dine Alone. It premiered on Consequence of Sound as part of their “Origins” feature series and the band’s Jim Ward told them, “(Once in the studio) I had all the parts to a song that was being written in the moment…we rehearsed it through twice, then recorded a version to listen back to. That version is what you hear now- we never touched it again. It was an experience I’ve never had before, a song exploding into existence and never looking back….it’s inspired by a fictional timeless romance that’s not been allowed. Lovers who, for whatever reason, can’t share a home or a life. Maybe the lovers are in a time when interracial or interfaith or homosexual relationships are forbidden – but the tag of the song is ‘sometimes miracles come late.’ As in – don’t give up on the love, don’t give up on the faith, don’t give up on hope – don’t give up on the song.”
The next chapter of Jim’s musical lineage is the release of Sparta’s new album ‘Trust The River,’ their first full-length studio album since 2006’s ‘Threes,’ on April 10 via Dine Alone Records. The first taste of the new album is the single Miracle.
The video for Miracle was directed, shot, and edited by Angie Reza Tures. Angie Reza Tures is the Executive Director of Femme Frontera, a film organization in El Paso, Texas made up of six women filmmakers from the U.S.-Mexico border region. Femme Frontera advocates for the amplification of films made by female filmmakers from borders across the globe and celebrates these unique voices through showcasing work, funding female-directed projects, and providing film education. She had this to say about the video: “Miracles are hard to come by and, I think at some point, we all hope for one. I shot in stop motion, a series of snapshots/moments, to show our day to day – how we live, how we work, our tenacity, and the inspiration we receive along the way. More often than not though, I think we can get lost in the routine, ultimately taking life for granted, and failing to see what’s actually in front of us. I filmed the last shot of the video in real time to illustrate that, as much as his vision of his future is strong and hopeful, nothing hits you harder than the reality of the present moment.”
When it comes to his long and fruitful career in music, Jim Ward is not guided by vanity or money or some grand narrative in which he’s the central player. It’s all about the song, the melody, the lyrics. In late-2017, when he began making heavier, more riff-laden music, he rang his Sparta bandmate of more than 20 years, bassist Matt Miller, and began work on ‘Trust The River.’ Of their absence Ward notes, “I’ve made a real point to never break up a band, mostly because if you look at my history it’s filled with on-and-off-again projects. As much as I can control it, I don’t want there to be permanence.” Making the album was a multi-month song writing process that culminated in some of the most inspired recording sessions of his career, with help from Miller, drummer Cully Symington, and guitarist Gabriel Gonzalez. Also joining them was Austin-based musician-producer, David Garza.
Having been a member of heavy bands but also showcasing his more melancholic side via his solo work, Ward says the new Sparta album feels like the logical meeting point of his influences. “Naturally it’s coming to this unity,” he says. “Those two worlds have always been on a path towards unity. And I knew in my heart that it was coming. I’m super excited because we get to do this all in a way we want to.” he says of playing small clubs for multiple-night runs, stripped down and intimate, and then exploring whatever city he might be in. “When you’re 23 and you’re on tour you want to play the show and go to a bar and have a crazy night. I would much rather play the show, go to bed and then spend the next day in the city going to a museum or a really good lunch,” Ward explains. “Patti Smith talks about how she shows where she wants to go. I find that really cool.”
Making the album was a multi-month songwriting process that culminated in some of the most inspired recording sessions of his career, with help from Miller, drummer Cully Symington, and guitarist Gabriel Gonzalez. Also joining them was Austin-based musician-producer, David Garza.
‘Trust The River’ is available for pre-order here and it marks Sparta’s first new album since 2006’s ‘Threes.’ The band have also shared the singles Believe (which Brooklyn Vegan called a “promising taste” of the album) and Empty Houses.
Of that track Consequence of Sound noted it, “kicks up the dust of the housing bubble burst that occurred over a decade ago. While that might seem well in the past, there remains an undercurrent of anxieties for those who experienced the financial upheaval, a consternation Sparta captures in a cauldron of tense drumming and twirling guitars.” MXDWN said, “ it challenges what the listener expects from Jim Ward and company, taking on a bit of an folksy Americana flair in the guitar lead and subdued rhythms, though it retains some of that Southwestern influence that At The Drive In exhibited, particularly in their early days.”
With thanks to Six Boroughs Media