M Ward Announces Album

m_ward.jpgM. Ward announces details of "Hold Time" (Merge Records – February 17, 2009).
 

 

 

 

 

M. Ward’s rise to international renown has been something of a slow burn.  Initially a well-kept secret of his peers in the Portland folk scene, his star continued to rise with each record’s release, and he is now one of the most acclaimed American musicians of the decade.  With 2003’s Transfiguration of Vincent, his first recording for Merge, Ward’s honey-soaked vocals, deft finger-picking, and beguiling lyrics caught the attention of fans like Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, who invited him out on tour. 2005’s Transistor Radio—a love letter to the golden age of AM radio—was a critical success, earning a plethora of excited reviews.  He spent time touring with Conor Oberst and Jim James (of My Morning Jacket)—playfully billing themselves as “The Monsters of Folk”—and was taken out on the road with The White Stripes.  2007’s Post-War was something of a breakthrough, landing Ward and his band on the late-night chat show performance circuit and winning the public praise of such disparate talents as Norah Jones and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, the former taking him on a global tour as her sole support act.

 

Whenever back home in Portland, Oregon, Ward was kept busy with the recording project of another fan-turned-friend, Zooey Deschanel.  Her home-taped demos had been entrusted to him soon after they met, and the resulting full-length album, She & Him’s Volume One, has enjoyed international success.  Ward—the enigmatic “Him” of the equation—acted as producer, guitarist, and arranger on the album, providing the perfect setting in which Deschanel’s fledgling songs could shine.  Volume One was inspired by the sun-soaked sounds of ‘60s California pop, an altogether more up-tempo sound than Ward’s fans were familiar with but one which proved his adaptability and cemented his reputation as a world-class producer.

 

Hold Time, to be released in February 2009, is an eloquent and startlingly beautiful album which includes guest performances by Jason Lytle, Lucinda Williams, Tom Hagerman of DeVotchka and Zooey Deschanel. While past critics have compared him to everyone from John Fahey to Tom Waits to his old friend Howe Gelb, with Hold Time it’s clear that M. Ward, with his brilliant guitar playing and innate sense of melody, is one of those rare and special talents who defy comparisons and compartmentalization.  Like a true American treasure, M. Ward cuts his own groove while music fans continue to fall under his whispered spell.

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