Album art from Ward Richmond’s “Highly Meditated.” Photo courtesy of Wendy Taliaferro 

Ward Richmond’s new album “Highly Meditated” is music for tough times.

The Dallas musical veteran, whom you might recognize from the Boys Named Sue or Slick 57, looks back on his wild past, addiction and the struggles of fatherhood in 10 upbeat songs that will make listeners hopeful for the future.

“Everything relates to recovery,” Richmond said. “I quit drinking five years ago, and I’ve embraced yoga and self-help. It’s about connecting with the positive energy of the universe.”

“Highly Meditated” was born out of several difficult family experiences. First, his daughter Betty was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 4. A month later, his niece was born with Temple Syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that requires a tracheostomy, ventilator and feeding tube.

Richmond channeled those experienced into music and started writing songs at the end of 2018. In mid-2019, he teamed up with Beau Bedford to create the 10-track album.

“My goal was just to go to the studio, get away from normal life, be creative and make music,” Richmond said. “We had fun, and I kept recording. It’s become a concept album of where I’m at in life. It’s a different style than what I’ve done in the past.”

The music on “Highly Meditated” incorporates folksy vibes from Richmond’s past while drawing on 1990s influences, such as Weezer and Cake. The result is an album that crosses multiple genres.

The first song he wrote was “Smile,” an ode to those he loves with lyrics that seem particularly relevant during the coronavirus pandemic:

The state of Texas and the world and the weather

got me feeling like I gotta do a little bit better.

“I’ve recorded 10 albums over the course of 20 or 25 years, and they were all similarly themed,” Richmond said. “When I wrote ‘Smile,’ I was like OK, this is a new era of songwriting for me. I had a sound in my mind nothing like I’d done before.”

Richmond, who lives in East Dallas and attended Woodrow Wilson High School, has been playing music since 1998, when he formed the band Slick 57 with his best friend John Pedigo. They later formed the honky tonk group, Boys Named Sue. With both bands, they toured the world, sharing stages with ZZ Top and more.

Highly Meditated” released June 26 and is available on any digital streaming service.

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