M. Ward – Post-War
When I was younger my grandfather used to come over, take out his old Gibson hollow body guitar from its slumber, the smell of its sweet rosewood body would flood my nostrils. He and I would sit there in my parent’s living room and play old Hank William tunes. As the night winded down we would always end with a 1920’s folk song by Irvin King called “Show Me the Way to Go Home”; another night, another story to remember. Matt Ward or better known through his stage name M. Ward has a cunning ability to embrace the nostalgia that accompanies the music my grandfather and I would play.
M. Ward’s fifth studio album entitled Post War is made up of simple song arrangements that evoke a simpler time in America’s history. Utilizing his whisper-like voice, sounding as weathered as paint on a Louisiana farm house. Ward tells stories of loneliness and longing, but with an urgent sense of optimist overtones. Ward’s story telling ability is his finest attribute, which has made him one of the most acclaimed singer songwriters of the decade; Post War speaks about the complexities of life using traditional folk and blues connotations.
Ward’s earlier works centered on short mood pieces that encouraged the listener to construct their own connection to each story through the rise and fall of Ward’s emotional tide. Post War incorporates a versatile sonic touch not seen on past arrangements of Ward’s (having a full backing band will do that), however the intimacy that personifies each of Ward’s songs are not lost with the album’s bigger sound. Ward opens up with “Poison Cup”, a beautiful love song where Ward begins with, “One or two won’t do/ Cause I want it all…I hope you know what I’m thinking of/ I want all of your love”. The song is more dynamic with soaring string arrangements and a grandeur closing, yet it is Ward’s hushed voice that holds the song together; giving it character and resilience. Other highlights include the wistful “Chinese Translation” and the stripped down, dusty vinyl-like recording in “Rollercoaster”.
Post War is full of mesmerizing storytelling and heartfelt reality; it feels as wholesome and inviting as those warm summer nights when my grandfather and I would, for a few hours, put our worries behind us and tell stories.
review by Kelsey Phillips