CLN Inside Nashville: Ward Davis
Today Outlaw Country-Rocker, Ward Davis, releases his newest album Black Cats and Crows, a record full of stories and an authentic sound. The album, which has been four years in the making, brings out a darker storytelling side of country music. Davis says “I never anticipated to meet the people I did on this journey and taking it in such a grand direction. I mean I never thought I’d have music on vinyl records!” Ward, who’s written for country legends such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and even Trace Adkins, says taking his music outside of Nashville, onto the road and working on songs on his own terms is something that was necessary to stay true to himself.
After trying to write mainstream country (including a song called What’s So Good About A Dirt Road) and failing at coming up with something that met the trends, Davis moved into his current direction. Songwriters Cody Jinks, Kendall Marvel, and Shawn Camp are a few of the co-writers on the new album, while Anthrax’s Scott Ian makes a guest appearance on the ominous murder balled, “Sounds of Chains.” Davis says he does his best to keep the old school country sound alive as he believes it’s somewhat of a lost art. “Through all this, I gravitated toward the ‘old dogs’ of Nashville, those are the guys I wanted to write with.”
“I’ll tell you a story. There’s this group of old songwriter guys who used to hang out at this bar called Dan McGuinness in Nashville. Pat Aldren, who co-wrote the title track on my first album with me, Ralph Murphy, and old label exec named Paul Lux and Tony Arrada, wrote The Dance for Garth Brooks; I’d go down and sit with these guys, never tooting my own horn or asking them to write or anything. I just enjoyed sitting and listening to their stories. I was there on the day, I had gotten the CD’s of my first record and I went down to give Pat a few since he’d written the title track with me. Tony got there first and asked what I had in my hand. I told him it was just my new record and he took it, looked it over then slid it back to me. I told him I had plenty for Pat and he could keep one if he wanted. He took it back, tore the wrapper off, looks at it, closed it and says ‘you wrote Unfair Weather Friend,” the song Willie and Merle recorded. He stood up from his barstool and says “alright I’m leaving. I had no idea I was sitting next to a damn genius.” I told him to shut up and sit his ass down. Tony went on to say that he had to pull his car over and listen to it because it was so emotional. Later that night I got an email from him with a track by track pat on the back. Telling me how much he liked every song, saying that he could tell I wanted to stick my flag in the ground with that album and that I had done that. It was always nice to sit and listen to their stories, but the coolest part of the whole music process was when they started looking at me like I was one of theirs.”