Jordan Ward makes you feel like the cool kid in class. Leaning back in your chair, legs kicked up on the desk, bobbing your head to the bounce of your headphones without a care in the world — all of which embodying the wavy, woozy and whimsical allure of his fresh sound.
After linking up with Joony on “IDC” late last year, the St. Louis singer’s motion is only going forward from here on out. Aptly naming his debut album FORWARD, which dropped on Friday (March 3), Ward’s grandiose evolution from dancer to artist is as impressive as it is manifested.
Ultimately, the 28-year-old enigma lets his roots shine brightest on his formal debut. Leading in his evergreen LP with its second single “WHITE CROCS” (Jan. 24) and its third track “CHERIMOYA (BONUS)” (Feb. 10), he shared the visual to an instant fan-favorite “FAMJAM4000” on Wednesday (March 6). “There used to be this dog that lived in this yard and he used to have this long chain. It used to traumatize me every morning walking to the bus stop,” Ward details riding shotgun in the video’s intro — immersing viewers into his hometown of St. Louis.
The underlying themes of family and love are littered all throughout the record, as “FAMJAM4000” is an undisputed jam for the ages. A personal nominee for song of the year, the groovy drum progression intertwines seamlessly with hazy, upbeat synths and Ward’s high-pitched vocals — seemingly sending you to a cookout in his backyard.
“And as we get older it’s hard to reach an understanding / I left with no plan-B / Can we bring the love back? / I know you been waiting so long,” he croons alluding to leaving his native St. Louis at age 18 to pursue his dreams in Los Angeles. The track is not just another hit off the record, but certifies Ward’s inimitable range moving FORWARD on other tracks like “PRICETAG/BEVERLYWOOD,” “0405,” “SIDEKICK” with Joyce Wrice and the dreamy “DANCE MACHINE” — which he interestingly made before his breakout hit “Lil Baby Crush.”
“CHERIMOYA” is an enchanting guitar-driven ballad that invites awe and nostalgia with pure intentions. He saunters over love-laced vocal lines like “How could I go back for temporary satisfaction?” Yet, he uses the cherimoya — a species of edible fruit-bearing plants native to Ecuador and Peru — as a metaphor for love-bound bliss.
“You’ve always been good to me / My cherimoya is so sweet / all the best things come naturally,” he croons over its candied dreamscape production, telling his love interest how “rare” and special she is to him. It’s truly a gorgeous near-Valentine’s Day offering that is sweeter than store-bought strawberries, with Ward poetically picking cherimoyas for his “CHERIMOYA.”
The album is executive produced by close collaborator Lido — who aided Jordan on his 3-track cover EP, PLANTAIN KAROKE!!!, and appears on “PRICETAG/BEVERLYWOOD.” Ward recruited fellow St. Louis native Ryan Trey for his head-turning hit “WHITE CROCS.” Evidently, the Valley Hopefuls emcee rocks out in “WHITE CROCS” on the track — stepping up with smooth melodies that inject listeners with unrivaled serotonin.
The loose R&B-plugg fusion is not only catchy, but showcases Ward captains a sound all his own. Floating over light, atmospheric synths, droning bells and minimalistic drums, Ward and Trey’s bars are a blazing heat check — melting the beat with an infectious hook: “Just opened up my phone and it said it need space / So I hop on the 405, and I’m speed racing.”
Contemplating the “expensive taste” the women surrounding him have, Jordan appears love struck regardless of how “down bad” he is. He teeters between lustful quips and laid-back afterthoughts, oozing swagger alongside Trey’s captivating guest spot.
Expensive taste, these girls got expensive taste
Tryna up my weight but I don’t really got the patience
She wanna be a star, well girl l’m not your spaceship
I’m still waiting on payments, but I know they on the way bitchJordan Ward — “WHITE CROCS”
Not only a singer who can bar-out whenever he pleases, his roots as a dancer take centerstage in the track’s coinciding visual. In the luxurious, black-and-white video, electric choreography, led by Ward, ties together he and Trey’s performances seamlessly. Dressed to the nines in a blacked out suit, Ward sits across from the woman on his mind, which cuts to a synchronized dance sequence filled with rotating camera angles and “litefeet” poise. It’s a polished, eye-catching experience that you never get tired of listening to.
Amid earning a spot at J. Cole’s Dreamville Fest, touring with JID and Smino and prepping for his first-ever headlining tour, it’s hard for any artist to achieve that “classic” feel with a debut record. However, Jordan Ward made it look easy — finally reaching his defining moment as a solo star.
Check out “FORWARD” below!