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Articles Home » 1990 Articles » Ward, Matthew - 1990 Fortress
Ward, Matthew - 1990 Fortress

ARTIST: Ward, Matthew
ALBUM: Fortress
LABEL: Live Oak
SERIAL: 7010021708
YEAR: 1990


LINEUP: Matthew Ward - vocals * James Dillingham - guitars * Gary Leach - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Warrior * 02 Heaven Is Calling * 03 Since I Found You * 04 Faithful And True * 05 Psalm 33.3 * 06 You * 07 Indecision * 08 God Of All * 09 Mixed Emotions * 10 Fortress


If you know anything and everything about Christian Rock music, then the name Matthew Ward should be well familiar to you. Originally part of a brother/sister trio called 2nd Chapter Of Acts, the Ward family were regulars on the Christian circuit throughout the seventies, with their early brand of devotion based music, with strong vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Mike Curb Congregation but without the masses of personnel involved. In the eighties however, Matthew decided he wanted to 'rock out' a bit more, even more so than his sibling sisters, so he ventured out into a solo career. By the time 1990 came around, Ward had already formed a new label (Live Oak), after years being associated with Myrrh and Sparrow Records. His solo album of that year - 'Fortress', is a beautiful mix of CCM, AOR and melodic rock. First comparisons: think eighties era Kansas alongside a band like Mastedon, the project of Dino and Jon Elefante. Tremendous credentials indeed. Apparently, the content on 'Fortress' is based on the Martin Luther's hymn 'Our God Is A Mighty Fortress', and you can see this influence within the lyrics.

The Songs
Things get off to a punchy beginning with the excellent 'Warrior', one listen to this and you'd swear this was Kansas circa the Walsh/Livgren era! Smooth AOR is the order of the day with 'Heaven Is Calling', complete with luscious synth layers and masses of vocal harmonies. The ballad 'Since I Found You' is one of my most favourite ballads in all of CCM-dom. A passionate track that evokes the most personal of thoughts and feelings. Holding back on the tempo is the restraint of 'Faithful And True', the vocals once again cascade through the mix, the tune melody rich as ever. Letting loose is the instrumental improvisation of 'Psalm 33.3', which again sounds like Kansas at sound check time. The back-end of the album heavies up significantly. Ward's studio band work it hard on the track 'You', the drums are very upfront in the mix on this one. Just as hard-hitting is the next tune 'Indecision', Wards' vocals are quite powerful, matching the forceful angle of the lyrics. Idle Cure is a reference point for the AOR/pomp of 'God Of All'.. the guitar solo from Dillingham smokes! 'Mixed Emotions' is a piano based ballad, but the title track 'Fortress' ends the album on a blaze of commitment to the mighty God, albeit with booming drums, blazing dual guitars a la Boston and vocal harmonies.

In Summary
Despite the lyrical theme and obvious religious connotation, it is the music that takes precedence here, and with Matthew Ward, you'll get no compromise on quality, and a world class vocalist. Along with the debut Halo album, 'Fortress' remains a personal favourite out of the many excellent Christian releases from that late eighties/early nineties timeframe. Investigate with a GDAZE recommendation behind your search.

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#1 | Eric on October 08 2006 14:06:41
I saw 2nd Chapter Of Acts in concert back around '79. I remember Ward's vocals standing out. Nothing they released did much for me, although there was one of their later LP's that featured Kerry Livgren and contained a few good tracks...

#2 | swazi on October 23 2011 22:07:39
This disc is spinning here at this very moment and a superb one it is. What a voice!
#3 | gdazegod on October 11 2013 04:38:18
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