Reviews:: M Ward Post War

Originally, I wanted to hold off on doing full reviews of artists that were heading to Vancouver until the week of the show. However, when M Ward brings his porch swing melodies to Vancouver on SEPT. 2nd, I’ll be in Toronto getting married, so you get the review early.

An artist’s career evolution and the opinions of their fan base is an interesting dichotomy. Critics attack artists for not changing, while fans lament, wanting the artist to release another version of a great album. Normally, I’m trenched firmly in the evolution camp, hoping artists progress with each release.

That’s not the case with M Ward. His fifth record, Post War, is out later this month (AUG 22nd) on Merge and within two notes into Poison Cup I felt like I was back in a familiar place. The sounds are what you’d expect to hear crackling out of an old radio, resting on the front porch of an old country home. He is sort of my musical equivalent to the Linus security blanket. I never want him to change, no matter how old we both get. His vocals are soothing; so are the hushed guitar riffs he plays so well. There is a sense of exhaustion in his voice and even when he is full of rage or pain, his tone and demeanor remains calm. It’s the quiet power of his statements that makes you want to listen.

Then, about 1:20 into the record, the greatness of this record emerges. Rachel’s drums kick into the track and you hear full instrumentation backing Ward for the first time since his debut album. If you’ve liked anything he’s done before, chances are you will be blown away by this record. Ignore the fantastic Daniel Johnston cover with Neko Case, or the cameo by Jim James of My Morning Jacket. If you approach this record as a fan of Matt’s previous work, you can’t help but love this record. Not surprisingly, the title of the album reflects the subject matter of the record, as Ward creates stories of the suffering caused by war without preaching at us.

If you had told me 15 years ago I’d be won over by an artist because of the subtle glimpses of Roy Orbison, I’d have been shocked (I also would have had to say, isn’t that the guy who did the song in Pretty Woman?), but Ward’s style is a throwback to a time where the narrative of the story was as important as the melody. Chinese Throwback transports you to a steam ship and takes you on a spiritual journey, looking for the answers to life’s questions. This classical theme fits perfectly with his classic style.

UPDATE:: Check out the animated goodness that is the video for Chinese Translation - via Chromewaves

Daily Links::
So Much Silence linked up the tracks from Silversun Pickup’s live WOXY appearance. Check them out::

MP3:: Well Thought Out Twinkles
MP3:: Rusted Wheel
MP3:: Future Foe Scenarios/Kissing Families
MP3:: Lazy Eye

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