Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Review of M Ward's Hold Time and giveaway
Annie MusselmanPrior to last year, M Ward’s career path was one of fairly slow and steady growth. His earlier works cultivated a mysterious, almost baroque tone and largely showcased his instrumental virtuosity and occasionally his world-worn rasp. Subsequent works found him acting as a sort of musical time capsule, an archivist for music of bygone eras of Americana country and folk whose increasingly confident singing and songwriting allowed him to not only pay tribute to, but contribute to that canon.
She & Him, his 2008 collaboration with singer-actress Zooey Deschanel, was probably intended as a diversion but perhaps predictably blew up into the highest-profile project Ward has been involved in, their debut album Volume One garnering no small amount of praise – much (but not all) of it deserved. The musicality was pure Ward, but Deschanel’s bright vocals and direct, simple songwriting gave it a sunnier disposition than you’d usually associate with him.
And judging from his latest record, it’s rubbed off on him. Hold Time finds a jauntier Matt Ward than on past works, still laid back and in no real rush to get anywhere besides the back porch but with a bit more spring in the step nonetheless. Though things still get evocatively sad and nostalgic where necessary – the duet with Lucinda Williams on “Oh Lonesome Me” and the title track, for example – there’s a sense of fun that runs through much of the album and makes it feel extra fresh – Ward has mastered and assimilated classic pop idioms into his fearsome musical repertoire, and the world is a better place for it. Those who long for his fearsome solo guitar pieces or transformative cover songs may find things a bit too straight for their liking, but for the rest of us who know you can throw Transfiguration Of Vincent on anytime, it’s another great effort from an artist who manages to constantly move forward by staying rooted in the past.
Ward is currently on the road and will be at the Phoenix in Toronto on Monday, April 27 and courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got a couple pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to hold time” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, April 23.
Originally supposed to be out yesterday, Ohbijou’s sophomore album Beacons appears to have a new release date set for June 2.
Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija has also begun organizing a new music series in town entitled “Heavy Vessel”, which is intended to feature local bands playing in a sandbox in a schoolyard, but inclimate weather forced the inaugural edition to be held indoors instead. Chart has a review of the first show and some video footage has also surfaced – Sucking A Lemon with a clip featuring a scaled-down Bruce Peninsula and Colin Medley capturing a performance by The Acorn’s Rolf Klausener.
To mark the start of their upcoming tour, which begins April 30 at the Mod Club in Toronto, The Dears will be releasing a new b-side or unreleased track to download every week, the first of which can be grabbed below. Also check out an interview with Natalia Yanchak at Singing Lamb.
The Washington Post, Duke Chronicle and Decider talk to Thao Ngyuen of Thao with The Get Down Stay Down. I’ve failed to see them every time they’ve come to Toronto and also missed every one of their shows at SxSW, but they’re playing The Bowery Ballroom in New York the evening I get there next month. I think I should make the effort to out and see them. They’ve made a puppet-powered video for a Lovin’ spoonful cover they recorded for a split 7″ for Record Store Day.
City Pages and Black Book Q&A Chairlift, who just reissued their 2008 album Does You Inspire You in remastered form and with a couple of bonus tracks, one of which you can hear over at Stereogum. Chairlift are in town this Saturday, April 25, at the Phoenix opening up for Peter Bjorn & John, with whom JAM and Metromix have interviews and MPR a session.