ALBUM REVIEW: M. Ward – More Rain

12310498_10153748249929573_3995855134905061746_nMore Rain is the new album from M. Ward and it could very well be his best yet. This is his first collection of new songs since his previous album A Wasteland Companion was released in 2012, an album different in styles to More Rain but containing the same irresistible musical flavours that only M. Ward can deliver so beautifully. 

The opening title track More Rain starts with a sound almost reminiscent of the wind before wind chimes come in followed by actual rain. It’s a beautiful way to start the record and the rain continues as the first strums of Pirate Dial make their way through the shower. M. Ward is well known for certain sounding songs and Pirate Dial couldn’t be anyone else but him, the beautiful acoustic guitar and reverb laced vocals leaving a lasting impression on your soul. Things turn more electric on Time Won’t Wait with an exciting and upbeat guitar part trudging along. This track also features American singer-songwriter Neko Case on backing vocals and she sounds fantastic, complimenting Ward perfectly. The piano playing on this song is superb as well with each chord hitting the spot over and over again. The song comes to an abrupt halt before Confession comes in which at first listen is quite bass heavy, especially during the verse sections, but Ward’s electric guitar and a trumpet come in to bulk up the overall sound.

  1. More Rain
  2. Pirate Dial
  3. Time Won’t Wait (feat. Neko Case)
  4. Confession
  5. I’m Listening (Child’s Theme)
  6. Girl From Conejo Valley
  7. Slow Driving Man
  8. You’re So Good To Me
  9. Temptation (feat. Peter Buck)
  10. Phenomenon (feat. Peter Buck)
  11. Little Baby (feat. k.d. lang)
  12. I’m Going Higher

I’m Listening (Child’s Theme) takes Ward back to a more acoustic vibe which he does oh so well. The combination of acoustic guitar and vocals with a touch of reverb is pure Ward, almost a trademark sound at this point. Laid back, soothing, perfection. The electric guitar solo is spine tinglingly good before he returns on vocals with what sounds like 50’s style “ooooooooo, bop bop” backing vocals behind him. Sublime. Girl From Conejo Valley was the first single from the album released on the 1st December 2015 so we are familiar with this one. It’s a wonderful track and having it as the first single off the album was a genius move because it really does sum up the whole of the album, almost like a musical umbrella that the rest of the songs sit under. Slow Driving Man is gorgeous with Ward’s vocals flowing over the music so effortlessly. A highlight on the album for sure especially the slowed down effect to mirror the album title when he sings the words Slow Driving Man. Exquisite.

You’re So Good To Me follows and almost has a Beatles-esque feel to it, especially when the bass comes. But the song starts with a single acoustic guitar before the full band joins the party, the bass being a driving force in the excellence of this song. For me personally You’re So Good To Me is the best track on the album and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was released as the albums second single at song point. Temptation and Phenomenon are the next two songs and both feature REM guitarist Peter Buck who plays guitar on Temptation and mandolin on Phenomenon. The former is an exciting rocker which fits beautifully after the more laid back middle half of the album and the latter returns to the acoustic vibe which is so prominent on More Rain. M. Ward’s acoustic driven songs are some of his his best and Phenomenon could almost be a She & Him effort, it’s not difficult to imagine Zooey Deschanel singing instead. Beautiful song. Little Baby sees another guest join Ward, this time k.d. lang who supplies backing vocals. It’s a nice song with familiarities to Phenomenon in terms of overall feel. The final track is called I’m Going Higher and starts off with drums before the rest of the band fades in. You can tell instantly that it’s going to be a fantastic album closer and that’s exactly what it is.

Overall More Rain is a spectacular album and it’s difficult to find any reason why it isn’t a 10/10 album, in fact there’s no reason at all. The tones that M. Ward creates not only on guitar but the sound of the album as a whole are so unique these days and it’s something he’s been doing not only with his solo albums but She & Him albums for years. A very underrated artist, musician, producer, visionary and certainly one of the finest albums of 2016.

10/10

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