Jordan Ward’s ‘Forward’ Advances R&B as a Genre

Photo Credit Ricky Alvarez

Jordan Ward has finally unleashed his highly anticipated debut album, FORWARD, and it’s safe to say that it was worth the wait. The St. Louis-born, LA-based R&B standout has established himself as one of the most promising breakout artists over the course of the last few years, and this album solidifies that perception.

With FORWARD, (released through Interscope Records), Jordan Ward explores a wide range of sounds and emotions. Ward puts his unique spin on each track. Whether he’s delivering an infectious banger, a genre-bending dance track, or a tender love song. His sound draws inspiration from various genres, including old-school funk, alternative rock, and hip-hop.  This project shows those influences more eclectically than anything he has dropped to this point. 

The entire 14-track project is executive produced by Lido, known for his work with some of the biggest names in music, including credits with fellow St. Louis phenom Smino. The album’s title, FORWARD, is a testament to Jordan’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of the R&B genre and exploring its future possibilities. “FORWARD, not only pushing our sound and creativity, but pushing to evolve and break cycles,” he commented on the album’s title. “FOR WARD, a dedication to my family and our future. FOUR-WARD, my fourth project, but also a FOREWORD in my story being the debut album!”  These multi-dimensional meanings are reflected vividly in the context of the project. 

IDC (feat. Joony), Cherimoya, and White Crocs (feat. Ryan Trey) served as FORWARD’s singles, and have been met with widespread critical success.  However, Ward is at his very best on some of the new releases.  

Jordan Ward – Forward 

FAMJAM400 sees him truly embrace the dance/funk ideation, with crisp, pitched vocals and stripped-backed production.  In a superb pre-hook Ward sings  “Cause as we get older it’s hard to reach understanding/See life with no Plan B/Yeah, I could be all around the world/But without family, it don’t mean anything.”  

Another standout joint is track 7, Pricetag/Beverylywood, a two-part track that vivaciously shows Jordan Ward’s full range.  The melodic, layered feels of the first half of the joint make way for a more rhythmic delivery and more experimentation with pitching in the second half. The lyricism here is poignant and intimate.  Thematically, the song breaks down how he’s given everything. Urgency, availability, and attention to someone who didn’t necessarily return those attributes.  And his rising fame has made him aware that he deserves better.  Adding to that pressure is the everyday struggle we all experience.  Bills, mortgages, and insurance costs.  Ward hints at the fact that the decisions we make have lasting consequences. And it’s easy to lament those on the other side of them.  

The title track, Forward, is another shimmering example of Ward’s immense talents both as a vocalist and songwriter.  Another example of reminiscing on childhood, and looking back on the experience of our life now. Ward remembers how life was then, and how much it’s changed. In a beautifully written second verse, he sings. We was good kids, didn’t always make the bеst decisions./Our folks did their best with what they was gettin’./Damn near killed themselves just to make a livin’./I can’t let them die tryna make a livin’./Know we’d get somewhere if we get past our differences.”

FORWARD is more than just an artistic triumph for Jordan Ward; it’s a personal journey of growth and self-reflection. One that personifies common struggles, and chooses not to lament, but rather, to move, well, FORWARD.  

Overall, FORWARD is a remarkable debut album that showcases Jordan Ward’s immense talent and potential. He’s an artist we will continue to monitor with a close eye. We can’t wait to see more big moves in 2023.

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