Over the five years plus of I Don't Hear A Single you might expect the most popular review to be something that was all big chorus and riff happy. It is in fact, Ward White's 2020 album, Leonard At The Audit, one of the best things that I had heard in ages that graced the Top 10 of the IDHAS Best Of 2020 list. You can read the review here.
The problem was how do you follow that? Well, The Tender Age equals, if not betters that 2020 masterpiece. White is a revelation, the nearest comparison is prime time Bryan Ferry. He certainly has the charm and the look. The vocals are also not a million miles away, but the songs are a million times more complex and ballads are nowhere in sight.
There is also the lyrical genius. These lyrics are plentiful and you wonder how he gets all the sentence out in one breath. These songs remind me of Ron Mael on those first three Island albums, not in style, but in format. All those words and subjects that are just unexpectedly banal with killer one liners.
Songs entitled Denture and Gail Where's Your Shoes, subjects such as being charged an extra day for your rental car. White is labelled as an Art Rocker, in truth this is more Art Pop. Beautifully constructed songs that take unexpected twists and turns.
There is also tons of variation, compare the piano schmooze of Dentures to the pace and Guitar Pop of On Foot. There is a Billy McKenzie feel to Heavy Lifting. In comparison Wasn't It Here rocks, albeit gently. You'll have heard the magnificent Let's Don't Die At The Stoplight on a recent IDHAS 10 Song Mix, something that gets nearest to explaining the phenomenon of Ward White.
Easy Meat is very Bowie-esque and Dirty Clouds deserves special mention for the extraordinary lyrics. If anything this album feels a little more Pop than Leonard At The Audit and there are certainly unexpected Guitar moments. One word describes The Tender Age. Marvellous!
The album is released on the 8 October. You can listen to the two embedded tracks and buy the album here.