ALBUM REVIEW: Ward Thomas – ‘Restless Minds’

I’ve played Restless Minds again, probably for the fourth time this week, and I’m a bit restless. 

The ballad-led third studio album from the British, effervescent and harmonious twin sisters, Lizzy and Catherine Ward Thomas, is drawing out a restless spirit in me.  What is it that they’re trying to say?  Country music offers a story in three minutes; Restless Minds offers mixed messages.  Like analogue static – if I listen often enough I will pick up something?

The new album, also released under Sony Music, lacks the immediate impact of Cartwheels, their number one second album, but it is worth a few listens.  Of the fifteen tracks, no immediate stand-out demanded attention initially – however, I’m not the target heartbroken, pop-preferring Millennial audience.

The cover of Restless Minds is a stylised and produced effort, and it’s instantly social media worthy. Which leads us to the first song, No Filter: “We’re both just pretending we’re something that we’re not/I re-position my hands, my hair, my cheek/So you might listen to me” advises that social media isn’t trustworthy.  Alright.

Lie Like Me, the lead and one of three singles from this album, released in July 2018, offers a catchy upbeat hook, with the unfortunate lyric, “I don’t even wanna buy what I’m selling”.   

One More Goodbye is a pop ballad for when a relationship ends. Next.

It’s Not Just Me: “I’m just trying to keep on trying/But I’m stumbling in the dark.”  You and me makes three.  Although I like the strings and the Irish flavour.

Ain’t That Easy is another heartbreak song. 

Almost halfway through the album and Rather Be Breathing pops up as track six, and the precursor to a much stronger second half (perhaps fifteen tracks is two or three too many?). 

Hopeless; it isn’t. But it wouldn’t be my immediate choice for a set list.

Never Know: “If you wanted, I’da been that someone/But you didn’t, so I’m not your number one/Does it keep you from your sleep at night?” The fast-paced lyrics showcase Ward Thomas’ vocal delivery. A defiant message about moving on, too.

Same Love is an equality-laden track, harking back to the earlier part of the album of heartbreak, but this time from the wider relationships we live with.

Track ten is where the album starts to get interesting. Changing’s lyrics, about accepting that:

“Stressing ’bout it won’t do a thing/Put down that paper/Deal with it later/Understand it is what it is” aligns with a reputable melody.  And reminds people that there are alternatives to reading the news.

But the song isn’t as gorgeous as No Fooling Me. Layered vocals.  Country strings.  A clear message of self-awareness in a dubious relationship:  “Oh, and if I go, will you miss me? I don’t think so/I’ll just be one less number sitting on your phone/I know they’re queuing as far as the eye can see/Well there ain’t no way in hell you’re fooling me”. Repeat button worthy.

I Believe in You’s upbeat acoustic guitar, with layered vocal arrangements to rival any salted caramel chocolate cake, will definitely hit the set list. And it’s definitely my go-to Monday morning track. Played loud. More repeat button worthiness.

The final three tracks – Little Girl Sorrow, Deepest You and This Too Will Pass – slow the pace right down, with their beauty, reflection and artistry … the ellipsis leading to the next steps for Catherine and Lizzy.   

Restless Minds is a growing up and grown up album, with juxtaposed leanings towards pop and lyrical insights. 

Having been to a few Ward Thomas shows, and been mesmerised each time by their incredible vocals and song arrangement, I think it probably comes down to this:  some artists just sound much better on a stage than on a compact disc.  Restless Minds showcases how incredible Lizzy and Catherine are live.

Emma Jordan
@dgtlwriter