M. Ward – More Rain (Album Review)

Arriving just in time for those wet winter days M.Ward gives us his 8th solo record, More Rain.

It’s an intimate affair with subtle guest appearances by  R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, k.d. lang, The Secret Sisters, and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ. The formula hasn’t changed much 8 albums in but it’s the strength of the songwriting and little flourishes from the accompanying players that really lift this record.

It opens with the sound of rain before drifting into the opener Pirate Dial an acoustic strummer that is like someone whispering over the desert to your car radio. It cranks up a gear next with Time Won’t Wake Up with it’s Batman dit dit dit backing vocals and T-Rex fills. By Girl from Conejo Valley we have veered off the road to the psycho-ville with the repeating refrain “my old girlfriend used to not to but now does” as a list of ex cons tumbles out.

As we leave Conejo Valley we are held up by Slow Driving Man. A beautiful ballad with a great building Beatles-like string arrangement and shimmering tremolo guitar. One of the many things I like about this album is that it feels like a journey…no collection of singles held together by some filler, all the parts fit together and the songwriting and arrangements really complement each other.

M. Ward has a history of including well chosen covers on his albums and here he chooses The Beach Boys’ You’re So Good to Me from 1965’s Summer Days and Summer Nights !!! which starts out sounding like a cassette demo and transforms into a stripped back Bo Diddley stomper before the harmonies melt everything into the sunlight.

With the slight reverb on his voice, doo wop backing vocals and tremolo guitar work you often  feel like you are listening to a radio broadcast  drifting across time and space from a late Sun Studios session. No one is rewriting the rulebook of nu-folk here but listening to this late at night with a single malt and the rain on the roof sounds like a good time to me.

Brent Giblin

Click here to listen to Slow Driving Man from More Rain: