Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

M. WARD

Hold Time

2009-03-09

I have a bit of a crush on Matt Ward anyway, so this might be a little biased: Hold Time, the seventh album under the name M. Ward, couldn’t have come out at a better time. Just under a year after the mad-talented guitarist/ vocalist/ songwriter/ producer/ artist decided (bravely…?) to release a rather iffy album with film actress Zooey Deschanel (under the name She & Him), I was wondering if the old boy finally sold out for good. But Hold Time is classic M. Ward like we all know and loved him. Maybe a little more loveable even, because this is notably cheerier than past efforts. He rocks out a little bit this time around, taking glam-riff cues and slappy, big drums from buddy Jack White on “One Hundred Million Years”, “Never Had Nobody Like You”, “Epistemology”, just plain bounciness on “Fisher of Men” and electricity on the standout “Rave On.” This guy has worked with everybody talented from the White Stripes to Connor Oberst to Norah Jones (both of whom he toured with recently), and chose well placed and humble collaborations with My Morning Jacket’s mastermind Jim James and Lucinda Williams (their duet “Oh Lonesome Me” is beautifully simple, and her gravelly vocals lend remarkable grace). Not to my surprise, however, the real strength on Hold Time lies in his ballads. The title track is filled with rich, ambient intrigue, and the lyrics to “Blake’s View” walk the fine line between kid’s book-simplicity and actual brilliance. Paired with his adorably tinkling guitar work, even on the upbeat stuff (which is also simple and excellent), his buttery warm vocals and cozy songwriting really work all over the place on this album, and will hopefully win back a little bit of the love that She & Him lost. – Stef

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