“I like the multiple meanings in the word ‘crush.’ A word that can both represent both infatuation and destruction is pretty interesting” says local singer-songwriter Ray Ward about the inspiration for the moniker of his musical project, General Crush. The fact that there are multiple meanings contained within his band name is fitting– Ward’s music definitely isn’t confined to one genre. Growing up, Ward watched his dad play fiddle in folk and jazz bands, then picked up bass and guitar, improvising along to Red Hot Chili Peppers records before diving into 90’s rock, instrumental electronic, and (most recently) songwriters like Nick Drake and Jose Gonzalez. Today, as both a songwriter and producer, he specializes in combining electronic and organic sounds.
When we last heard from Ward, he was in a more electronic phase. His last EP, Glistening, is full of laid-back tunes that tastefully blend folk-inspired vocals with head-nodding drum programming and ambient synths. However, his latest EP, A Wide Escape, sees a return to his acoustic roots with a fresh perspective. “One Less Thought,” the EP’s first track, is an upbeat folk-pop number that would feel right at home on an Of Monsters And Men album. Ward sounds comfortable as well, his hushed vocals drifting peacefully over the bed of guitars and percussion. The song is cheerful and warm without being flippant, matching breezy melodies with highly personal lyrics that aim to be as engaging as they are catchy. “With my music, I really aspire to produce something that’s both personally meaningful and potentially significant to someone else,” he explains.
The title track, “Wide Escape” is a glowing, quietly optimistic gem of a ballad that is Ward’s best track to date. It’s appropriate that “Wide Escape” is also the last song on the EP, as it sums up what the release is about: discovering yourself through some kind of escape. “Gonna find who you are when you’re alone,” he sings, “when I go real far with a lifetime to roam.”
“I think one goal of mine is to offer listeners a little sense of escape with this music,” he elaborates. “My favorite music has always done that for me – taking you out of your current situation for a moment and putting you somewhere else.”
However, Ward sees escapism as a practical, essential part of self-discovery, a useful tool for anyone who needs grounding in reality. As he explains, “A certain kind of escape can reconnect us to who we are and then launch us forward into something new. This EP in a lot of ways is about that process of escape and discovery.” This might help explain his advice on “Living A Dream.” (“Don’t worry about tomorrow / it’s a lifetime away.”)
Below, you can get an exclusive listen to A Wide Escape prior to its official release on 8/10.