It’s hard to find songs as honest as the ones on Ward Davis’ debut, 15 Years in a 10 Year Town. He goes where few would dare, and gets some help from those who’ve made a reputation bucking the trends.
The honesty isn’t just in the lyrics, but also the sound. While some feature southern rock-influenced guitar riffs and a harmonica, like the opener “No Goin’ Home,” others are just Davis and his guitar. Oh, and there’s a mandolin thrown in there every now and then. The songs only contain what is needed to get the desired emotion across, and it’s a method that works very well.
There’s also an honest feeling coming from Davis’ voice. It’s especially evident on songs like the title track, and the album-closing “Skeptic’s Prayer.” The latter song is one of the most refreshing, honest country songs to have been written in a while. It’s a good thing he released this album independently, because otherwise there’s a good chance executives would have strongly advised putting a song questioning Jesus Christ on a country album.
Going back to the title track, it seems like an honest portrayal of what it’s like trying to make it as a songwriter in town that’s full of them. Writing song after song, not knowing when your next cut will be, and also wondering if it’s time to move onto a profession that’s a little more stable. The vibe it gives off feels like it could have been written on a rainy day.
Then there’s a first single, “Old Wore out Cowboys.” he gets help from Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson, who are known for doing things their own way. It’s a laid back song about a place where old school cowboys, pickers, and dreamers like them can still go and feel welcome. It’s off the beaten path, and Hank Williams is always coming out of the jukebox for free. It’s seems to yearn for the days when the music was more important than the fame.
Whether you agree with the subject matter on 15 Years in a 10 Year Town or not, there’s no way for you to deny Davis is telling the truth straight from his song-filled soul. And while the truth may not always be pretty, it sounds really good.