Diane Ward: Beautiful Ways (Shinytown Records)

Keyboard contributor Robbie Gennet reviews the latest album from Diane Ward, Beautiful Ways.

Singer-songwriter Diane Ward is one of the luminaries of the South Florida music scene, where she's cultivated a grassroots following, one stellar gig at a time. Her latest album, Beautiful Ways, is one of her best, showing more of her piano skills than ever before. Co-produced with longtime guitarist Jack Shawde, this album—her fifth—is a great starting point to discover what makes Ward such a special songsmith. The title track is one of her best, a rapturous love song full of major7 chords, frosted in gorgeous harmonies, with a big chorus that resonates deeply. I confess that when I first put this record on, I had to replay this song a few times in a row because I was so struck by it.

Subsequent songs such as "Faithful Am I" and "Lucky" are even more pianistic. Love and compassion pour forth from lyrics with an old-soul depth, and her seasoned voice seals the deal. Beautiful Ways is a timeless and passionate album that hits the mark on every level, from songwriting to production and mixing to the superb melodic bass lines of secret weapon Debbie Duke. As a showcase for everything that makes Diane Ward so special, this record is a gem that should not escape your attention. It is a triumphant and emotive collection of songs that will answer the question: "Where have all the great singer-songwriters gone?" Before you lament the poor state of popular music, make sure you check out Beautiful Ways to have your faith refreshed and restored!