M. Ward: Post-War

By: Dennis Cook

A quiver of exquisite cogitation, the aftermath of conflict seen through scars and new skin, growth on the edges of a long shadow - M. Ward has always been good but Post-War (Merge) is special.

Simple, beautiful truths abound on this smartly polished, unrushed gem that stirs echoes of Rick Nelson, Les Paul and Mary Ford, '60s Willie Nelson and early James Taylor. That list is a far cry from the indie crowd he's usually lumped in with but there's something undeniably antique about Ward - a quiet voice broadcasting from the outskirts of Eden.

From the "Poison Cup" raised at the start to the Leo Kottke-esque coda, this cries healing tears while skipping and pondering, "What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart? And how can a man like me remain in the light?" Ward asks the right questions but never offers easy answers. Right now, "Requiem" is the unsentimental ode I want played at my funeral, and his version of Daniel Johnston's "To Go Home" plants a kiss on love's bruised knee.

Hats off to Ward and his collaborators. Assistant producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Coykendall (Old Joe Clarks, Richmond Fontaine), MMJ's Jim James, percussionist Jordan Hudson and the rest have made a mighty sweet sounding album. Even before you sink into the folds, the mood of it charms you into a happy state. When the harder truths become apparent you realize you're listening to true craftsmen at their finest.

JamBase | Peace Time
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[Published on: 5/24/07]

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