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M. Ward “A Wasteland Companion”: Album Review

With his latest release A Wasteland Companion, M. Ward has once again demonstrated the incredible diversity and creativity that has built him such a loyal fan base over the years.

As if he didn’t already have enough to do (in addition to his solo work, Ward is the “Him” in She & Him, his duet project with New Girl star Zooey Deschanel; he’s also part of the band Monsters of Folk), Ward has created a well-put-together collection with this new effort, his first solo project in three years. The record plays as a sort of a tip-of-the-hat to the various genres and players that have influenced Ward. The result is a sort of historical musical journey, making the title A Wasteland Companion a fitting one.

Along with his standard country/folk vibe, Ward ventures a bit into pop, early rock and even swing. He covers jazz legend Louis Armstrong (“I Get Ideas”) and lo-fi singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston (“Sweetheart”). He even involves “Her” for a couple of tunes (Zooey Deschanel is featured on two songs). There are also some particularly moving moments in Ward’s original tunes (“Crawl After You” is my fave on the record). And even though you can hear everything from The Beatles to Marvin Gaye in the sounds of this album, Ward manages to keep it all cohesive, so it doesn’t seem scattered or fragmented. How he did it, I don’t know, but this hodgepodge somehow seems to make sense.

Anyone who has watched a film by director Quentin Tarantino can see the man’s deep love for the movies in the way his films play out—you can tell this is not just a guy who makes movies, but a guy who watches them. This is the same sort of vibe I get on the musical side from A Wasteland Companion. M. Ward isn’t just a musician—he’s a music lover. You can feel his love for music all over this record, and it makes you love music, too.

And most of all—it makes you love M. Ward’s music.


ALBUM RATING: 4.5 stars (out of five)

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About the Author


Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Kim Phelps found her inspiration and love for music listening to local bands play in the coffeehouses around town. She soon found her own voice as a singer-songwriter, and eventually began playing her own gigs in the coffee shops. Her personal influences include Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Ingrid Michaelson and Cat Power, but as an indie musician herself, she has an affinity for any band or artist who pursues creative freedom on the outskirts of the music industry. As our Indie correspondent, Kim makes a point of highlighting up-and-coming independent acts who are creating a buzz and building an audience. When she's not blogging for us or playing in the coffee shops, Kim works as a barista herself to help pay the bills. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Posted in: Indie/Alternative Music


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