stands apart from many folk indie music acts. The lead vocalist Matt Ward has made a name for himself over the past decade or so, contributing to projects like She & Him and the supergroup Monsters of Folk. Ward might not be a household name but there is no doubt that you have heard at least one song from him in the background of a TV show, movie or even more likely a coffee shop. Recently, M. Ward released its latest album A Wasteland Companion. This is Ward’s eighth album with the last one being 2009’s Hold Time, which came out to very positive reviews and was considered by some to be one of the best albums of that year.
A Wasteland Companion is slightly more upbeat than Hold Time while still holding true to the musical style which made M. Ward the well liked folk act that it is. Ward illustrates his ability to perform his charming and well-crafted lyrics in his signature haunting vocal style throughout the album. The lyrics in the track Sweetheart (which features Zooey Deschanel) has a character and cadence that only come from a truly playful and positive creative place. Clean Slate features a simple acoustic guitar along with a banjo picking progression; the song’s lyrics are straightforward while still managing to leave a lasting impression. The entire album plays out like a warm summer’s day, full of familiar sounds and an overwhelming sense that in simple things we can find the greatest comfort.
There is no doubt that this album and its music will find a home in the hearts and minds of fans of Ward, but it may also find some traction with others who have found themselves more and more drawn to this sort of music. Fans of Fleet Foxes last album Helplessness Blues may be drawn to A Wasteland Companion as they both come from a similar stylistic place. With Ward’s penchant for working collaboratively, would it be completely out of the question to hope for a Fleet Foxes/M. Ward project to appear out of the musical ether? Putting aside any wishful thinking, we know one thing for certain, that A Wasteland Companion offers just what you have come to expect from this artist, breezy acoustic guitar progressions which match the voice of Ward so well you could hardly envision him singing accompanied by any other instrument.