Ward Thomas have come an awfully long way over the last few years. Having started out as darlings of the British Country scene, they signed a record deal with Sony Music, which propelled them into the mainstream consciousness for their BBC Radio 2 championed sophomore and third releases. The radio exposure saw those records reach #1 and #8 in the charts respectively. Not bad at all for the sisters from Hampshire who boasts very pretty harmonies, but have had to face questions from the initial audience about their loyalty to the Country sound.
Whether they are Country or not is really not important, for as they reach their fourth studio album - their first for their new record label, EastWest, they have an important bridge to cross. Having made it into the mainstream, they need to nurture their audience, while exploring the new creative freedom that the deal allows them.
Invitation, does to some degree, do that. With echoes of both Kacey Musgraves and Fleetwood Mac, Invitation is dazzlingly beautiful harmony driven pop, but it doesn't necessarily push the safety barriers any further than their earlier releases. Yes, there is more of a focus on their own individual vocal textures, but that is the only real new dimension.
Yet that does not make it an unenjoyable listen. In fact, Invitation is most certainly their most inviting listen to date. The anthemic Don't Be A Stranger and rich Meant To Be Me are easy highlights on album that will bring a happy, warm breeze into your life.