For a man who dabbles musically both behind the scenes and out in the open, you may not know M Ward’s profile. Many are quick to highlight his collaborative efforts working mainly with actress and musician Zooey Deschanel under the She & Him moniker, as well as his production for the likes of Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis and Carlos Forster. But little do they realise that he holds a hefty amount of solo projects to his name, ranging since way back in 1999.
Twelve-track LP More Rain is the ninth addition to his catalogue, hosting a largely alt-country affair with elements borrowed from a variety of different musical areas. These relatively short songs contain traces of early 1960’s Doo-wop, folk tendencies and a whole lot of moody blues tones. But overall it’s the gift that keeps on giving, with intricacies that pop up across the record to keep you hooked.
After a short intro of rain sound effects and esoteric pangs and bangs, we strum glacially into ‘Pirate Dial’. It’s a gorgeous track with layered guitars and highly present main vocals. ‘Time Won’t Wait Up’ is a more upbeat compared to the last, with a chugging drumbeat overlayed with a repetitive “do-do-do-do” vocal line. The backing vocals are soulful, and that stark piano break is invigorating.“There’s a place you hide when they’re conspiring against you / Confession” is how fourth track ‘Confession’ begins, with a more rock-toned guitar taking focus atop of a fast, driving bass line.
We slow down again for fifth track ‘I’m Listening (Child’s Theme)’, and the title could not be more apt. With the dreamy “doo-wop” parts filling the background it’s a floating, melodic 3:12 minutes.’Girl From Conejo Valley’ (video below) seems like a more joking affair, at first describing a criminal walking free from prison, and then following up with the line “And my own girlfriend, used to not to but now knows him well.” Confusing lyrically, yet this is the first effective build up of the album.
‘Slow Driving Man’ is the longest track on the record at 4:36 and the string-like sections bring a grandiose to the song giving it a sweet vibe. Over the halfway point eighth track ‘You’re So Good To Me” holds a more vibrant guitar line, as if just having found a renewed purpose. Another more rocky, upbeat vibe comes in ‘Temptation’, with a lingering guitar melody perpetuated through the entire song.
The only questionable track is tenth track ‘Phenomenon’, which honestly is not a pleasant word to hear repeated over and over again, but it does hold another sweet bluesy tone. The final two tracks hold their own allure, with ‘Little Baby’ appealing to those who love delicate and softly spoken country-esque ballads, and closing track “I’m Going Higher” is a fitting ending with it’s frequent drum kicks and bright acoustic guitars jangling through.
For an album that focuses on rain, it brings more sunshine than anything else. To call it uplifting only scratches the surface.
‘More Rain’ is out March 4th, grab a copy here.