Philadelphia producer Ray Ward (aka *Chi) creates music that seems to be in a constant state of flux — whether it’s the movement between musical styles or simply the transition between lyrical ideas and themes. Having played in reggae bands in his hometown, a rock band in Connecticut, a blues band based in New Jersey, and a Brooklyn folk band, Ward has used this history of transitory creativity to inform the music under his own *Chi moniker. Drawing on such disparate influences as Johnny Cash, Gorillaz, and The Velvet Underground, his music finds the chameleonic musician switching genres and sounds as easily as changing clothes. And as with many musicians who inhabit multiple musical landscapes, the tendency is to force as much into each song as possible, but Ward forgoes these bloated inclinations and simply allows the music to develop naturally, without an overabundance of outside interference.
On his latest single, the acoustic rocker “All My Woes,” he blends gently plucked guitar notes, an insistent bit of percussion, and his own expressive voice into something whose influences can’t be easily dissected and categorized. You may recognize the foundation, but Ward meticulously layers mournful strings, ghostly backing vocals, and subtle electronic flourishes until we’re left with a song that feels indebted to its origins, though not bound by them. As he repeats the song’s refrain, “I guess I’ll let you know all my woes,” he bends the song inward, drawing the listener close. It’s this feeling of inclusivity on Ward’s part that allows us to feel as though we’ve become apart of some larger narrative, a detailed life that we’re only know starting to understand.
Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the newest single, “All My Woes,” from Philadelphia songwriter *Chi.