CD: M Ward, Post-War

(4AD)

After four albums that matched M Ward's warm, vocal rasp with his folksy guitar finger-picking, the Californian has made what he's calling his "first band record".

Perhaps inspired by his collaborative work on Jenny Lewis's marvellous Rabbit Fur Coat, Ward coaxed several musician pals into the studio; the result is his most striking album yet. Ward's dusty, country-blues is lent an almost boisterous edge by guests including Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Neko Case, Jordan Hudson (the Thermals) and Rachel Blumberg (the Decemberists).

Even the album's loose theme of Ward pondering how America will heal after the Iraq war can't dampen spirits, with shades of sorrow and despair ultimately outshone by the optimistic sparkle in his songwriting. As Ward's rollicking cover of Daniel Johnston's To Go Home attests, it's great to be alive - but some day you won't be. Post-War is the sound of M Ward (and friends) enjoying it while it lasts.

Contributor

Chris Salmon

The GuardianTramp

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