M. Ward has long been better known for his work with others than his own, first getting widespread notice as the guitarist for Bright Eyes (QRO live review), as one of the Monsters of Folk (QRO album review), and particularly as the ‘Him’ of She & Him (QRO live review) with The New Girl, Zooey Deschanel. Perhaps that’s because he’s always been a little standoff-ish on his own, like a quiet Man In Black (of the Johnny Cash variety). Yet the M. In Black is charming on More Rain.
After a minute-and-a-second appropriate weather intro, More Rain displays a relaxed Ward with a little smile, particularly with the following “Pirate Dial”. His charm wins over on the album, somewhat surprisingly more than his skill, despite Ward getting to where he is with his hands. Indeed, Rain is relatively restrained by a lack of ambition – while there are stronger numbers like “Girl From Conejo Valley” and “Slow Driving Man”, others are nice ditties that are just nice ditties (“Little Baby” sounds exactly like you think a song with that title would…).
Perhaps all of his time with leading ladies & men has rubbed off on Ward since his last record (2012’s A Wasteland Companion – QRO review), leading him to more of a presence of his own at the front. Here’s to More charm.