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Monday, October 25, 2021

CD Review

M. Ward

Hold Time

Merge Records

Rating: 4

 

When it comes down to it, there are two types of friends in the world: The flaky ones and the ones you can trust with almost anything.

 

Luckily, M. Ward would be categorized as the latter. Ever since his album Duet for Guitars #2 debuted in 1999, Ward has gained a cult following among listeners.

 

The brilliance of M. Ward lies in that he commands attention without demanding it, and Ward’s latest release, Hold Time, attests to that fact. The album, which was released on Feb. 17, is faithful to the same style that made Ward so beloved in the first place: a penchant for musical traditions anywhere from folk to blues to classic rock, his signature languid vocals, songs soaked in reverb and an ironically refreshing devotion for a bygone era of other guitar standards like John Fahey.

 

Ward has also garnered a following of fellow artists alike, appearing on recordings by Cat Power, Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis and My Morning Jacket. He recruits these friends from high places to guest on Hold Time. She & Him counterpart Zooey Deschanel contributes backing vocals toRave On (a Buddy Holly cover) andNever Had Nobody Like You. Country classic Lucinda Williams lends a creaky hand to the balladOh Lonesome Me and ex-Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle joins the party on the infectiously cheeryTo Save Me.

 

For anyone unfamiliar with Ward, a warning: Getting used to his style may take a bit of persuasion. With a sound that fans call trusty and well worn, it may take a weary toll on newbies.

 

To fans: Despite a more polished approach to the dusty folk-rock we all know and lovea little less guitar-picking, a bit more vocal-centric aesthetics and a bigger sound overalldevotees will appreciate Ward’s transition from melancholy, solitary mastermind to something more decidedly happy, ambitious and accessible. This is a shift in mood most evident in songs such as the aforementionedTo Save Me and the country music-embracing numberFisher of Men.

 

Altogether, Hold Time is a reminder of Ward’s staying power as an artist. It also serves as a testimony to his established place on my ever-changing, limited capacity iPodbut really, that’s the type of relationship that listeners should forge for themselves.

 

Give these tracks a listen:Never Had Nobody Like You, “To Save Me

For fans of: Iron and Wine, John Fahey, Bon Iver

 

Rachel Filipinas

 

Lyrics bar:

Never Had Nobody Like You

Well, since time I had a mind, I been lazy

And times before that I was cruel

And times before that I was lean, I was mad

Honey, I ain’t never had nobody like you

 

And the times before that, well, I was crazy

I saw the dark side of the moon

And the stars in the sky, they never caught my eye

‘Cause I ain’t never had nobody like you

I ain’t never had nobody like you

 

Now it’s just like ABC

Life’s just like 123

Yeah yeah

Yeah yeah

Ah oh

 

I watched my own habits die and it’s painful

Sometimes its painful in the light of the truth

But you can be faster than light

I’d like to thank you tonight

Honey, I ain’t never had nobody like you

I ain’t never had nobody like you

 

And it’s just like ABC

Life’s just like 123

Yeah yeah

Yeah yeah

Ah oh

 

I trusted liars and thieves in my madness

Honey I was wasting away in the room

But now that I been through that hell I got a story to tell

Honey, I ain’t never had nobody like you

Mmm, I ain’t never had nobody like you

I ain’t never had nobody like you

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