Matthew Ward, the bugger, gets under your skin and into your head. Hold Time is a set of songs more like a dose of salts for the senses, a spirit-balming, effortlessly cool set reminiscent of so much while sounding completely original, even when doing covers (Rave On and Oh Lonesome Me), both of which are given startlingly beautiful makeovers, the second also featuring Lucinda Williams on dual vocal duties.
There is no doubt in my mind, M. Ward will be known as one of THE voices of the new century. His original songs are all keepers, from the stripped down of opener For Beginners and the title track, Hold Time (an instant classic) to the more traditionally arranged Epistemology and To Save Me (which also features ex-Grandaddy Jason Lytle).
I was disappointed to read he doesn't like playing live so much (despite putting in performances like this one). This doesn't bode well to him touring down below, which is a bummer because this is one man I would love to see perform live. In fact, there's only one other artist I consider to be in the same league as M. Ward and that is Dan Kelly (see our review here). Thankfully Dan is Australian and loves performing so we will get to see him sooner or later.
Hold Time is so good, I would like to declare it a Forgotten Gem except it hasn't been forgotten and is not likely to be either. I'm off to see if I can find any of his earlier releases.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
It's just... beautiful. His voice is so gorgeous, and the production and arranging are equally lush. I haven't listened to this CD much since YourZ bought it in January and I'm sorry about that. I'll just blame this blog once again, for getting in the way of my normal random listening to music. It's preventing me enjoying the more recent purchases we've made in favour of some dreck we've had hanging around the collection for ages.
OK, I've calmed down now. M Ward does that to you - he exudes calm, which was handy on the way home in heavy traffic last night. I'm going to make sure I have it on hand the next time I have a long-distance fight with my mother.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP drown out the sounds that annoy you
For more information: http://www.mwardmusic.com/