September 14, 2006

M. Ward Re-Does Folk

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M. Ward’s Post-War opens with the lyrics: “One or two won’t do/ ‘Cause I want it all,” which more or less summarizes my thoughts on the whole album. Post-War doesn’t have just one song that could be classified as its single, but rather, the whole album presents itself in such a way. thatallows Ward to draw the listener in with the first song and keep hold of his interest through all twelve tracks.
Ward’s newly released fourth album can easily be classified as folk, but his music is different than any other folk that I’ve listened to lately. Unlike the countless other male singer-songwriters that are popular right now, Ward strays away from monotony in his lyrics and melodies. Perhaps this is because he keeps his songs upbeat by supplementing his guitar playing with keyboards, drums and, more uniquely, cellos and violas.
Ward’s lyrics are equally as laudable as his melodies. His album is missing the trite love songs that are popular of coffee shop folk singers. Instead, they offer a more poetic soul as Ward mulls over existence. Ward’s deep, soulful voice makes such lyrics seem credible rather than someone who is trying too hard. “Chinese Translation,” an upbeat, country-sounding song, tells a story of meeting an old man who is willing to share his thoughts on life, which ultimately brings forth questions like: “If life is really as short as they say/ Then why is the night so long?”
Interestingly, Ward’s album also boasts one less sought-after attribute. More than half of the songs are less than three minutes long, meaning that they lack the unnecessary end-of-song chorus repetition that is prevalent in most popular music. This may seem like an insignificant detail, but it does improve the overall quality of Post-War. I was able to enjoy the entire CD without ever becoming bored with a song and changing it halfway through.
Despite the quality of Ward’s music, which has garnered impressive reviews from Entertainment Weekly, People, and even Rolling Stone, it’s likely that you’ve never heard of him. However, Post-War is probably the best album that you’re not listening to right now. If that doesn’t convince you, consider the fact that Ward has probably worked with your favorite musician; he has recently performed with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Jim James of My Morning Jacket and produced Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.