M. Ward

Hold Time (Merge)

Following recent success with his Zooey Deschanel partnership in She & Him, M. Ward continues his path down the AM Gold aesthetic with Hold Time, his sixth proper record.

A hallmark of Ward's sound is a very timeless feel that, production-wise, could be from the early to mid-1900s and, arrangement-wise, draws on classic country-blues styles. And he enjoys this, deliberately. For instance, "One Hundred Million Years" has a noticeable vinyl-style hiss that was either added in or just a product of the equipment Ward likes to record with. And while She & Him enjoyed massive exposure, Ward's voice was largely absent.

Hold Time will satiate those who've come to love his hushed, gravelly voice and missed it last year. In terms of newness, though, there isn't much here, meaning Hold Time is probably what you'd expect from an M. Ward record. But some real gems stick out: "Never Had Nobody Like You" riffs hard on a classic-rock sound, complete with '70s-sounding guitar solos. And Lucinda Williams shows up to duet with Ward on Don Gibson's country classic "Oh Lonesome Me," a beautiful pairing of old and new Americana voices who, oddly, sound like they're from the same generation.

For the uninitiated, Hold Time revels in sentimentality, in both sound and word, and is as good a place as any to start.

 
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