M Ward: A Wasteland Companion

A new Matt Ward album is like a pair of old underwear: ancient, tattered around the edges, and very, very comfortable.

Ward first came to my attention via the video for Chinese Translation (see below). The song is catchy as hell and has some of the most poignant lyrics I’d heard in quite a while.

 I sailed a wild, wild sea
climbed up a tall, tall mountain
I met a old, old man
beneath a weeping willow tree
He said now if you got some questions
go and lay them at my feet
but my time here is brief
so you’ll have to pick just three

And I said
What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart?
and how can a man like me remain in the light
and if life is really as short as they say
then why is the night so long
and then the sun went down
and he sang for me this song…

Ward’s previous efforts were more laid back affairs; pretty much just him, his guitar and his faster than light finger pickin’. For Post War he upped the ante with additional musicians and more up tempo songs that still retained the feel of a campfire sing-along. It’s a brilliant album, one of my favorites from the decade, and in my top 100 of all time.

Then came the appearances on Conan and Letterman, a new album in 2009 (Hold Time…pretty terrific as well), a couple of ‘60’s girl group feel good albums with perky ‘it’ girl Zooey Deschanel (in She And Him) and, right on track, a new album in 2012. And, once again, it’s pretty wonderful and, at times, much better than wonderful. The jury’s still out whether it’ll reach the stature of Post War, but I highly doubt it. He’s a little like Weller in that way. You want to blown away by another Sound Affects, but you also know that deep down you’re just being delusional.