One of R&B’s Rising Star Jordan Ward Releases Debut Album: “FORWARD”

Sam Andargie, Writer

With mellow 808s, a unique voice, and the classic but new touch of R&B, Jordan Ward introduced himself to the competitive R&B scene. 

Jordan Ward’s debut album FORWARD gives us a sneak peek at the sound that he has looked for on his journey. Before this, he released one LP, one EP, and multiple singles from 2017 to 2021.

In this album, Ward explores the themes of romantic and familial love and personal growth. Ward says in his Billboard interview “These are love songs. There are voices on the album of the people to who I’m talking to. I’m trying to kind of come to terms with wreaking cycles of these unhealthy patterns of relationships.” He puts these emotions on these tracks while also testing his sound and tempo furthering his growth as an artist and person.

The 14-track album begins with the song “BUSSDOWN.” In the song Jordan is reminiscing on when he was with someone, potentially an old relationship. The song also includes a voice memo of an old man giving some words of wisdom.

The next track introduces the first feature of the album with artist Joony. The song has a completely different vibe from the previous one. This one has a more upbeat sound but when listening to the lyrics instead of reminiscing the two artists portray an “I don’t care” message to their ex-girlfriends, hence the title “IDC.”

The third track “FAMJAM4000” continues the upbeat/pop feel of the previous track but the message takes a complete 180. Now Jordan is asking to “bring the love back” and rekindle a relationship he regrets ending. The song has a simple drum beat that has pianos and trumpets complementing the beat in the background.

For the next few tracks, Jordan Ward would continue to explore distinct sounds like the heavy 808s on “WHITE CROCS” or the futuristic sounds on “DANCE MACHINE.” Even with the experimental sounds Jordan Ward still includes his romantic emotions.

While most of the tracks on the album have a romantic feel in them the 10th, 11th, and 12th tracks have Jordan giving us an understanding of his childhood in St. Louis. In the track “THINK TWICE” he goes on about the violence he experienced and not being able to think twice. 

The 11th track “0495” just reminisces about his childhood and neighborhood which then goes into the next track “FORWARD” which is about the issues he faced in those neighborhoods, whether it is about drugs or poverty. In the second half of the song he sort of vows to fix those issues for his family by saying “Gotta do this for y’all.”

The last two tracks are bonus tracks that rejuvenate the mood with how the previous track “FORWARD” left it. By doing this, the next track “SIDEKICK” has a pop-like beat and is fast-paced. It returns to the romantic theme of the album. The feature from Joyce Wrice compliments Jordan’s voice very well and elevates the song.

The last track “CHERIMOYA” is another love song but this time Jordan doesn’t seem to reminisce about the significant other. Instead, it’s more like a poem to that person and comparing her to a cherimoya plant, thus concluding his album with a love confession.

As the title of the album FORWARD has many hidden meanings in the title. For example, if you break down the title in half it is “FOR” and “WARD” meaning the album is for and about himself explaining the personal experiences/emotions he puts in the album. Jordan explains the title and the album more in the fourth track “FORFOURFORE.”

This project has its issues, but that is normal for a debut album. The issues I had with the song are how some songs blend and how they were short, they could have been a bit more engaging, and the setup of the track list. The little arc that talks about Jordan’s childhood could have been longer instead of just the three tracks.

This album is one of the albums that need a few listens to grow on you. At first, it’s a little weird because of the “new” like sounds but after a few listens you begin to appreciate the tracks. It’s like you’re bound to like at least one track if you are a fan of R&B. With that appreciation comes the understanding of the potential that Jordan Ward has. The more I listened, the more I appreciated tracks like “IDC,” “FAMJAM4000,” “SIDEKICK,” and “CHERIMOYA.”

I would personally give this project a 7.8/10.