First for music news
This Week's Issue
You’re logged in

Album review: M Ward M Ward Tickets

Hold Time

Album review: M Ward

8 / 10 Facts about this album:

M Ward has guested on recordings by Cat Power, Beth Orton, The Court & Spark, Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis (whose debut solo album Rabbit Fur Coat he co-produced), and My Morning Jacket.

M Vard's cover of David Bowie's ‘Let's Dance’ is featured on the soundtrack of the 2007 New Zealand film Eagle vs Shark.

"Amazing Grace’ is M Ward's favourite ever song

Album review:

For nigh-on a decade now, a tiny butterfly has been flapping its wings in Portland. With each flutter a new record gets made and, year upon year, a fresh band of followers pick up on its gentle wave. As time goes by, the likes of Cat Power, Bright Eyes and My Morning Jacket seek out the commotion like a chattering Greek chorus. Actress Zooey Deschanel flutters her own wings in unison for a while. Before you know it, even Brit-miser Noel Gallagher is assigning a rare appreciative nod amid the rise and fall of his lilting cadence... yet the tornado never quite hits.

This doesn’t matter, though: Matt Ward (for the tiny butterfly is he) simply carries on making his music, and (seven albums on) an ever-dedicated select few carry on loving it. Then something happens: a 2004 appearance on The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn prompts Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst to explode, “M Ward for President!” prompting Newsweek, among others, to run a piece on him. M Ward responds two years later, with ‘Post-War’, asking the question no-one else was prepared to ask: where was America now?

Three years on and it seems serendipitous that new album track ‘Rave On’, a song made iconic by Buddy Holly in 1958, marks Barack Obama’s Presidential inauguration in 2009 like a glorious tickertape parade. The jubilance is pre-empted on ‘Hold Time’ with the glam-rocker ‘Never Had Anybody Like You’, as the unmistakable syncopated beat-intro smoulders like a cross between T.Rex’s ‘Ride A White Swan’ and Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock And Roll’. Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’’ tin-echoes are soon reinvented on ‘Fisher Of Men’, before jubilation makes way for the familiar melancholic-pop that so defines M Ward.

As the confetti settles on ‘Jailbird’, the self-doubt creeps in underneath the infectious acoustic melody which warbles precariously, “Jailbird singing through the wire/’Cos his cage is closed and he’s stuck inside/Who’s going to hear my ‘Help me’ now?” Enter deal-breaking title-track ‘Hold Time’, which is (and let’s not understate things here) a career-defining ballad even on its own, masterfully striking “You were beyond comprehension tonight/But I understood…” And as William Blake’s poetics are conjured beyond ‘The Grave’, what better way to rub salt in the post-Bush wound than to cover Don Gibson’s ‘Oh Lonesome Me’, barely touched since Neil Young masterfully defined its sense of abandonment on 1970’s ‘After The Goldrush’?

As we said, there’s a butterfly flapping its wings and if you listen closely you can hear it flutter. Isn’t it about time that tornado hit? Kat Lister

To rate this track, log in to NME.COM

To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday

Comments

Please login to add your comment.

More Videos
More M Ward
M Ward Tickets
Date/Time Venue Town/City Seetickets Viagogo
Jul 15, 2014 Islington Assembly Hall London

Buy M Ward Tickets
from £18

Buy M Ward Tickets

Date/Time Venue Town/City Seetickets Viagogo
15 Jul 2014 Islington Assembly Hall London

Buy M Ward Tickets
from £18

Buy M Ward Tickets

Featured Videos
Latest Tickets - Booking Now
 
Know Your NME
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
 

 
NME Store & Framed Prints
Most Read Reviews
Popular This Week
Inside NME.COM
On NME.COM Today