The fifth M. Ward album and his most absorbing yet. Its songs unravel their world-wearied tales of life, love, and human kindness with an innate and special grace, helped in part by the very talented friends who join him on this record, such as Neko Case and Mike Mogis, as well as old "Monsters Of Folk" touring buddy Jim James (My Morning Jacket). Look for him on tour this fall.
An enviable multitasker, M. Ward deftly charts the varied dusty soundscapes of Americana. Since 2005, he's toured with the White Stripes, coproduced the debut from Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, compiled a John Fahey tribute, and relocated from Oregon to New Hampshire--and that's just to start. Somehow, he found time to knock out Post-War
, his first full-band effort. Since 1999's haunting solo debut, Duet for Guitars #2
, every Ward effort has been a departure from the one before. While 2004's Transistor Radio
was inspired by the radio days of yore, it's clear in Post-War
that Ward has modern times on his mind. Opening with an upbeat trio of songs, Ward launches across diverse musical territory before concluding with the slow blues of "Afterword/Rag." A driving rendition of Daniel Johnston's "To Go Home," featuring Neko Case, is an album highlight. Adding to Wards cast of indie-rock luminaries, Jim James (My Morning Jacket)--who appeared on Transistor Radio
--joins in on a couple of originals, the rollicking "Chinese Translation" and gospel hoedown "Magic Trick," which begins and ends with a burst of canned applause. --Kathleen C. Fennessy