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Rock Music Reviews
M. Ward
Post War

It’s no surprise to me that artists like M. Ward are overlooked. Why shouldn’t he be? He’s written five full albums worth of songs with substance and a sense of heartache, joy, and sincerity. Of course songs like his will never be more popular than those songs written for, not by, any attractive model body (i.e. Paris Hilton). Let that sarcasm read well. It’s a shame that artists like M. Ward can’t be heard by everyone who deserves to hear it.

M. Ward’s follow-up to 2005's Transistor Radio doesn’t stray too far away from the formula he has used in all his previous albums. The latest, Post War, works Ward’s haunting, but soothing and raspy voice combined with the folk rock driven melodies to set him apart from other artists under-the-radar or otherwise. He takes a sound that may seem out-dated, a blend of blues, soul, and folk and makes it born again.

Ward received a little assistance on this album this time around and used a full band during the recording process. The influence of the band seem to make the songs fuller, quicker, and even more developed than the previous four albums. To add a little more to the mix, Ward called upon the vocals of fellow “Monster of Folk” Jim James from My Morning Jacket and Neko Case.

Much like the album's title, the songs suggest optimism, whether those are M. Ward’s intentions or not, and allows for a breath of fresh air. Each track evokes a feeling of love, friendship, loss, or human kindness. It opens up with two apparent love songs, the first being an ode to the devotion two people in love can have. Ward’s lyrics, “If love is a poison cup/then drink it up” are perhaps influenced by William Shakespeare. The second song suggests a less tragic approach to love. A cover of the Daniel Johnston song, "To Go Home", Ward sings along with Neko Case, “I’ll be true to you/yeah you know I will.”

M. Ward’s songs can do a lot without saying so much. There is a simplicity within the songwriting that makes the meaning of the song seem greater than it might be.

Release date: August 22, 2006
Label: Merge Records
Rating: 8.6 / 10