Ace Enders - When I Hit The Ground
Well I think we have all been waiting for this album for far too long, finally it arrives. Ace had released The Secret Wars for free due to the delay of this album, and although it satisfied my appetite, I wouldn't say it's his best work. I was worried what to expect when the "real" album was finally released, and afraid that it would be subpar. Fortunately the delay was due to material that Ace and his label were not happy with, and the new album is the cure for that.
The album starts out strong and in your face with the track "Reintroduction" which rather seamlessly changes into "Take the Money an Run". It's safe to say Ace knows how to catch attention and he did a great job with the track-listing for the whole album. Each song is well placed which generates a great atmosphere for the entire listen.
After the first two tracks we get grounded for about a minute with a short acoustic track entitled "New Guitar" which is a great way to keep from overwhelming the listener and keeping an attentive ear. "The Only Thing I Have (The Sign)" is the next track and I believe is the intedend single. Ace released this track on the myspace before he started streaming the entire thing. Great catchy lines and chorus bring us back into the tune of the album.
The title track "When I Hit The Ground" follows which again is a great placed track. The song opens with just vocals and piano and despite the powerful choruses this is definitely a slower ballad song. However, the track is surrounded by a bit of controversy when we hear the line 'calm down, I'm always around' which is wildly similar to lyrics and melody from Days Away's "Stay The Same" off of their album Mapping An Invisible World . When asked about the similarity Ace expressed that if it is similar it was not intentional, and perhaps he subconsciously did it because he's a huge fan of Days Away. Considering his status, and his relationship with Days Away, I'm okay with this, in fact it almost makes me like the song more.
"Reaction" brings some familiarity to the album, as it was on The Secret Wars album which was released earlier last year for free . With that song along with a few others that had been released earlier in other album or on his myspace is a great way to keep listeners involved even during their first listen. Being able to recognize a song of an album, especially on the first listen of an album that's over 50 minutes long is probably the best way to create a connection with your listener. Perhaps this is the influence of the joint venture with Vagrant that helped to release the album, but more likely we're hearing the experience of a veteran musician creating what he deems best for his fans. For that alone I can respect the creativity of the album.
"Sweeter Light" I think is one of the stand out tracks. It begins with a whining guitar riff, which at first is off putting, but is perfectly complimented by the rest of the band when the song reaches its full texture. Another great catchy chorus gives the song its perfect blend of structure and personality. "SOS" follows this song, and to be honest it may be my least favorite track on the album. It has interesting guitar in the beginning; however it's a little too pop for me.
"Over This" is a decent track, and salvages "SOS" pretty well. It has a great message, and is very motivational, but overall it's another one of the tracks I would throw away. After this grim two song section we hear "Where Do We Go from Here", which is definitely a throw back to The Early November . Of everything Ace has done since the break up, this song, I feel, is the closest to The Early November . With that being said, obviously I think it's a great track.
Another previously released song is placed next, "Emergency". Not much I can say about this track that you don't already know. It's the "Ever So Sweet" of this album, it's incredible, it's what gave me faith that things would be okay without The Early November. Another piano intro leads us into "Leader". This song really showcases vocals, and for that I like the song, the ending is very moving also but it needs that to save the song.
One more time we'll hear a familiar track with a new version of "Bring Back Love (Year 2020)". To be honest I liked the Secret Wars version of this song better, but either way I can't help but love the song. It has a great message, and while Ace admits it's cheesy, I think it's an important song. We close with "Can't Runaway", which starts out kind jamband-ish, which is far from my liking. The chorus is good, it has some falsetto vocals in it that I keep waiting for Ace to belt, but he never does... so that sucks, if he plays this one live I hope to god he does that.
Overall I'm happy with the album, there are definitely some things I would have changed, but it's a great album. The anticipation for this record is incredibly high, but not to worry, for the most part all you fans will be pleased. I think my most disappointing observation is that "From A Daze", a track he released as a single online, didn't make it onto the album. Luckily it's still streaming on Purevolume , and of course the album is currently streaming in its entirety on Ace's myspace page.