Jim Ward has announced the forthcoming release of his new album, Daggers, on June 11 via Dine Alone Records. Today he shares the first peak of the LP by way of “Paper Fish.” The single premiered via Flood Magazine and Ward told them “Paper FIsh was the last song I wrote for Daggers, it seemed like it was the final piece of a puzzle I had been working on. It is rare for me to sit down, write and then sing something almost completely in one take- but that is what happened on this song. It was as if the process of making this record allowed me to finally break through and say exactly what I was trying to say. Life is a journey and for me that journey is 100% about being a better person. I think about and work towards this everyday. When I die, I want to die the best man I’ve ever been.” They say ““Paper Fish,” the record’s first single, presents the album as a polished, more pop-informed take on Ward’s career in post-hardcore.”
Jim Ward has played in a slew of monumental bands, from the iconic post-hardcore band At The Drive-In to Sparta, as well his alt-country project, Sleepercar. “I’ve always used music as an outlet for anxiety and frustration,” notes Ward, and in fact, it’s this healing power of music, Ward offers, that led him to Daggers. “When my world has upheaval, it becomes about doing the work in front of me.”
“I tend to exist in the darker parts of the psyche, Jim Ward admits. “That’s where I’ve always been.” And yet what makes the musician so unique and downright compelling is that when the world decides to join him in this darkness – the ultra-challenging year that was 2020— it’s then Ward is able to claw his way back into the light. Every night during the pandemic, armed with a guitar as well as a bit of time and purpose, this prolific musician was able to churn out several riotous riffs that ultimately transformed into one of his most personal and profound albums to date. It was also a cathartic form of healing: all the pent-up frustration and anger and longing and desperation that Ward, like so many of us, felt last year, came bursting forth via the new batch of songs.
While Daggers is officially credited as a solo work, and Ward never entered the room with any of his collaborators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s effusive in his praise for them: notably the twin team of Incubus bassist Ben Kenney and Thursday drummer Tucker Rule, both of whom took Ward’s guitar riffs and helped propel them into fully fleshed-out songs. “My friends did this for the pure love of making music with a friend,” he says of Kenney and Rule. “There’s no higher compliment. I don’t know how I’ll repay them.”
Ward specifically points to the today’s single “Paper Fish” as the one that allowed him to see the album most clearly. “All I ever wanted… was to die a better man than I was at the start,” he sings on the loping, effortlessly melodic track, and “that’s my whole concept of life right there,” Ward notes proudly. “That I’m making improvement. I can’t go back and say, “Oh I wish I didn’t do that” or “I regret that happened or “I wish this band had stayed together.” All of those things to me are part of the journey. I just wanna die the best man I can be.”
To that end, Ward calls Daggers his most hopeful record to date. “Reality is OK,” he says. “You can’t change the past, but you can take those lessons and you can do better.. I’ve always considered songwriting as a journey. It can guide me in the way I’m going forward.”