Elder Jack Ward – The Storm
Jesus is coming back soon, and Elder Jack Ward wants to make sure you’re ready. He sure was.
Perhaps he knew his time was coming soon, so it’s no surprise the veteran Memphis gospel-soul singer wanted to use his last breaths to continue spreading the Word through music to anyone with ears to hear. He went to visit the heavenly realms in April, just months before this posthumous album’s release, but if you’re not ready to be converted, this album may not be for you.
Hit the jump for more!
Ward’s definitely not shy about preaching his gospel message, which is repeatedly loud and clear (and simple lyrically). The sermon, aka album, starts out with the haunting “When This Life is Over”—a much more serious start than I’d expected right off the bat. I wasn’t quite ready to digest these lyrics with my Thursday lunch:
When this life is over
I know I’m gonna be ready
How about YOU? You? You?
The next few tracks follow suit, with “The Storm” and “Be Ready” echoing the end times message. I felt myself in a church service, and I pictured the choir swaying in robes and the congregation letting out a few “Amens” along the way.
Thankfully, The Elder, as I’m going to call him, lightens up the mood as the album progresses, because I’ll be honest, I was feeling a little weary and hit over the head with the down-tempo doom and gloom when I listened for the first time. But after a few more spins, I fell into a sort of gospel trance, and suddenly the album felt short, and I wasn’t quite ready for it to end.
My favorite track, where I feel a bit of spunk and personality start to come to light is his take on the traditional hymn, “I Have Decided.” I’m partial to this classic because my grandma used to sing it, but I like that he has some fun with it, switching up the original lyrics and melody.
The best part of the song, and maybe the entire album, is the sly “heh heh heh” he lets out after the line, “You can take most [not all] of the money.” Alright, now I see you, Elder Jack. You got some jokes and humanity in there after all.
Who’s this for?
Is this an album I’ll purchase and listen to over and over again? No. Is it nice to have it on in the background? Sure. Does it make me feel like I’m in church on a Sunday morning? Totally. Do I want to feel like that? Sometimes. And next week, I just might have that feeling and put this on. If you’re a Southern gospel fan, you should check it out, or if you want to be transported to a church with wooden booths in another era without actually going to one, give it a spin. But be warned: You just might find yourself in an actual church next Sunday.
Although it’s not an album I’d normally gravitate toward, it’s calmingly familiar for someone with my religious background who has spent countless hours of my life sitting in pews, but overall, The Storm doesn’t stand out as anything life-altering. I respect it for what it is and the long legacy Elder Jack Ward has left us. RIP, sir. I hope heaven is all you’d hoped it would be.