by / March 11th, 2009 /

M Ward – Hold Time

 1/5 Rating

(4AD)

Finally we have M Ward back on his own terms. The previously underground lo-fi genius has climbed into the mainstream with the critical acclaim of 2006’s Post-War and notable collaborations with American music glitterati such as Conor Oberst, Jenny Lewis and Zooey Deschanel. His rise from obscurity has been somewhat of a slow ascension in comparison to today’s get guitar/write song/myspace/fame generation but his mission was a labour of love and this is evident in his sixth studio LP Hold Time.

‘Hold Time’ is a slightly less perky affair than his previous albums due its deep introspection and dark brooding as is evident in his musings on life in ‘Blake’s View’ and in the excellent duet with Zooey Deschanel in ‘Oh Lonesome Me’. These still are laconic summer songs at their essence but perhaps a little less time spent round the Prince of misery Conor Oberst might do him the power of good.

Elsewhere we have the traditional traits common to M Ward albums. His wistful whisper, his intuitive hooks and the retro style song writing come 21st Century. No better examples of this is the upbeat folk of ‘Stars of Leo’, the dream like minimalism of title track ‘Hold Time’ and the puzzling but welcome glam rock stomp of ‘Never Had Nobody Like You’.

Ward’s covers of Buddy Holly, Don Gibson and Frank Sinatra may suggest he is spreading his A grade material a bit thin with his numerous collaborations and not keeping enough of the gold for himself. To this we say balls; it’s an extraordinary album and the covers are apt and welcomed.

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