September 7, 2006

M. Ward: “I write songs out of a burning desire to create something good.”

I wanted to draw y’all’s attention to an excellent interview with M. Ward in the Chicago Tribune, reviewing his fantastic new Post-War album. If you recall, I posted a track (To Go Home,” a Daniel Johnston cover with background vocals by Neko Case) from his new album a few weeks ago, and now his Post-War album is out — and it is mind-bogglingly good.

The Trib reviewer (Greg Kot) masterfully uses his words to capture the rich mood of the album: “Ward folds his skills into songs of unusual depth and the kind of humid lived-in atmosphere once routinely found on old Roy Orbison, Billie Holiday and doo-wop records. Ward’s albums live in the room in which they were created; the listener can almost feel the presence of the musicians through the speakers.” He is spot-on in expressing what I would want to say, and “humid” is a great word to describe the album. There is such a permeating sense of substance and immediacy to these tracks.

I’d say this album is definitely in the running for my top 10 list this year; it’s got the weight & beauty to sustain multiple listenings over the years.

I appreciate the depth of musical styles that Ward blends together, from the warm ragtime post-war sound of last-call tunes like “Afterword/Rag,” to the harmonies of the Beach Boys (notable on tracks like “Magic Trick,” co-written with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James) and the gentle folk storytelling of “Chinese Translation” (video here). Several of my friends are raving about it too (here or here), and the accolades are well-deserved.

Use some of your eMusic songs for this month to pick up this bad boy. Not an unworthy song in the bunch.

LISTEN: Post-War – M. Ward
(one of the most beautiful songs on the disc; honey rich, lovely, moody, sexy, fantastic. Begs to be listened to –really listened to– with your eyes closed)

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  • Yes indeed, it’s a brilliant record. Glad to see you like it too. :)

    Chad — September 7, 2006 @ 11:28 am

  • M. Ward makes beautiful stuff. Music to be cherished. Thoug hhe can rock out as well. I once saw him live and had the pleasure of interviewing him after the show.
    He’s a great person: the type of guy you sit back with with a couple of bears and just chat away, about the good old days of music.

    Stefan — September 7, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

  • I meant beers, not bears, of course.

    Stefan — September 7, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  • Just got it the other day; a beautiful record. Atmospheric, catchy, pretty, and thoroughly unique. I think we can expect great things from Mr. Ward for a long time.

    witchnose — September 7, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

  • his version of Daniel Johnston’s “Story of an Artist” causes the afformentioned mindboggling. Instead of of the autobiography that Johnston tells, Ward influxes the aura of a troubador going from town to town telling the plight of Johnston. But not one of those jolly piied pipers but maybe a town crier giving the last rights of Daniel Johnston at a public execution. With all the gloominess there is still a peaceful serenity coating the entire song, and it’s amazing. period.

    what an asshole…who types comments like this?

    OfJoseph — September 8, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

  • I saw M. Ward open up for the White Stripes last year. He is an amzing artist. Half of me was hoping to see the greenhornes. now i am glad i got to catch him and his band. Definitely check him out.

    Rinjo Njori — September 8, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  • i’ve been listening to this song on repeat for the past 1.5 hrs. no kidding. it’s filling that hole in my soul right now…so heartbreaking, and his voice…ughhhh. makes me hurt.

    Anonymous — September 8, 2006 @ 8:41 pm

  • I think a lot of M. Ward newcomers are not even considering his past four albums. People, that is some amazing stuff. Groundbreaking. Absolutely brilliant. I am not some tumescent music writer/reporter who wants to be the first to claim that “I found this guy” but you got to listen to End of Amnesia or Transfiguration of Vincent to really understand the evolution of Mr. Ward. If Post War was his last album I’d die a happy woman and listen to him with the likes of Nick Drake.

    Anonymous — September 14, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

  • anonymous, just the fact that you used the word “tumescent” in a sentence makes me want to listen to any and everything you could say.

    heather — September 14, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

  • I thought I’d add a story I heard about M Ward’s break into the business. He had apparently been trying to figure a way into the scene, and he is a big Fan of Howe Gelb (Giant Sand, etc). He gave Howe a copy of his demo after a Howe concert, and Howe loved it. So much so that he added Ward to his label (OWOM), the album was called ‘Duet for Guitars #2′. Howe recorded some stuff with him, and Ward was also introduced to Howe’s circle (Calexico, Niko Case, Richard Buckner…)

    It is certainly true that M wards work is worth trolling, as it is all as compelling as Post War. Of course all of Howe’s circle is worth trolling.

    Yon — March 23, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

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