Words by Ryan Kappy

Fourteen years. Implementing trust in ourselves the correct way can sometimes take this period of time. For Jim Ward, he put his trust and creativity into Trust the River, the new album from Sparta. This is the first album to be released by the band in fourteen years, after releasing three albums in the mid 2000’s filled with roaring choruses and distorted chord melodies.

With Trust The River, Sparta showcases a musical approach that has been heard with Ward’s alternative country band, Sleepercar. With former members Tony Hajjar and Keeley Davis reuniting with original members of At the Drive In back in 2017, Ward was given the task of reinventing the band. What came of it is ten new song arrangements that are filled with influences of Americana and folk punk.

“Turquoise Dream” has the ingredient of heartland rock being showcased heavily, with reminders of Brian Fallon in the distance as the song progresses.

“Cat Scream” and “Graveyard Luck” reminisces of past Sparta records in terms of rusty guitar riffs, while “No One Can Be Nowhere” has a delayed guitar tone and keyboard setting that shows an ode to later Death Cab for Cutie records.

“Graveyard Luck” has a stand out lyric in which Ward confesses “Well my head knows best but my heart will lie/I’m on my knees hands tied but I’m not surprised”, with Ward knowing full well that luck will always be with him in desperate times.

As Ward screams throughout the track Class Blue “You set me free!”, he has felt comfortable with where he stands as a songwriter. While most fans will be yearning for the post-hardcore sound Sparta has longed demonstrated, a new direction has been established that will breathe new life into Sparta in the years to come.

‘Trust The River’
© April 10, 2020

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