Review : M. Ward - Hold Time (2009)
EwCritics hailed his 2006 album, Post-War, but Portland singer-songwriter M. Ward is more famous as half of the feathery kitsch-pop duo She & Him, his recent pairing with doll-faced actress Zooey Deschanel. On his own, Ward is far more earthbound, but it's a singularly lovely kind of weight. And Hold Time does, in fact, feel timeless, a musical wanderer's dusty, train-hopping tour through folk, blues, and country. His voice, as beautifully cracked and worn as old leather, belies the meticulousness of the production —it takes a lot of work, no doubt, to sound this effortless. A–...full text
RollingsonesOn his first solo disc since teaming up with singer-actress Zooey Deschanel on the She and Him project last year, raspy-voiced troubadour M. Ward seems different. His immaculately arranged Americana is still as comforting as an old cardigan, but now there's a hint of sunshine in the melodies, especially on the Deschanel-assisted "Never Had Nobody Like You." There's a touch of Spector and Wilson in the arrangements; Ward piles strings and timpani into "To Save Me," a kind of boogie-woogie rock gone baroque. Behind the flourishes, Ward sounds as moony as ever, singing beautifully sad songs about mortality and feeling lonesome....full text
Pastemagazine"Everybody’s goin’ out / Havin’ fun / I’m a fool for stayin’ home / Havin’ none,” Matt Ward sings on his cover of Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me.” But those words clearly don’t apply to Ward’s life. Over the past decade, as he’s been cultivating a successful solo career as one of America’s finest singer/songwriters, Ward has also found ample work in production (Jenny Lewis’ Rabbit Fur Coat), guest spots (My Morning Jacket, Norah Jones, Bright Eyes) and a critically acclaimed side project (She & Him). So it makes sense that Hold Time comes almost three years after Ward’s last solo effort, the excellent Post-War. It’s the longest it’s taken the Oregonian to follow-up an album.
On Hold Time, he once again finds himself in good company. Lucinda Williams sings on “Lonesome,” and there are guest appearances from Zooey Deschanel (the She to Ward’s Him) and members of DeVotchKa and Grandaddy. On certain tracks, Ward shines as brightly as ever. “Never Had Nobody Like You” is a sweet tune with crunchy guitars, “Jailbird” is quintessential Ward with string embellishment, “To Save Me” rollicks fiercely, and the cover of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On” is splendid....full text
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