BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 M Ward: Hold Time (4AD)

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M Ward: Epistemology
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 M Ward: Hold Time (4AD)

The previous album by M Ward, Post-War, was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006 albums for its dark hues, free-range musical approach (blues, alt.rock, indie-folk, Americana etc) and the fact it had something to say.

At that time I noted his musical magpie tendencies (a good thing) and because of its layers said it would stand the test of time. It has round my way, and although I missed his outing with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him, it is pleasure to get another album under his own name.

This again betrays his appealing cut'n'paste style but here the touchstone is the elegant simplicity of Buddy Holly pop (with a smattering of Sixties-flavoured Beach Boys surf-pop harmonies on To Save Me) and a little old time country blues (One Hundred Million Years, Fisher of Men and Don Gibson's Oh Lonesome Me given a deep and dark reading with Lucinda Williams).

But it is the spirit of Holly who inhabits this music, from the Everyday-flavoured strum of For Beginners through Jailbird and obviously in his country-inflected cover of Holly's Rave On (which you'd expect to hear while sitting under a palm tree on a Pacific beach).

But as always with Ward (out of Oregon) it is what he also brings: the melancholy strings and emotional distance on the downbeat balladry of the title track, the muted rockabilly of Never Had Nobody Like You (with a little T Rex in the mix), the touch of Velvet Underground guitars, the gorgeous and subtle guitar work on Stars of Leo, the Johhny Cash train-time guitar on Fisher of Men . . .

And again Ward has something about life and love and the oddness of it all.

M Ward is someone quite special and as I mentioned previously about Post-War, you could analyse all the nuances and references for a long time to come. But this is music which also washes over you with the feel of slightly disconcerting familiarity. And he is quite some guitar player.

Good stuff. 



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Martin - May 9, 2009

M.Ward's Post War came highly rated.I had to wait for Hold Time however for my debut to his music.Super impressed ,Some beautiful tracks framed with Ward's exceptional guitar style.Understated yet concise his guitar and plaintive singing drench the album touted widely as his breakthrough into major player.Rave on can stand repeated plays I can attest.Each play reveals Ward's deft talent.Oh lonesome Me is another standout with a killer intro piano bite.Joined By L.Williams her huskier voice dominates but the song works wrapping you in melancholy.Utterly hooked I was and his range is vast.Very uncommercial and entirely absorbing his originality and voice put him high among the best of modern Americana.

Daniel - Dec 27, 2009

Going by the sample track, sounds like Johny Mayer or Donovon Frankenriter if they wore skinny jeans. Blergh!

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