The Word Alive
The Cellar, Southampton, UK - 1/12
A Wasteland Companion
Written by: PP on 10/09/2012 22:47:15
The next step on my journey of exploring artists and bands outside my usual genre preferences has landed me by the latest album of the much hyped indie/folk themed singer-songwriter M. Ward, who has enjoyed spectacular mainstream success since 2006 with the release of "Post-War" that year and "Hold Time" in 2009. What most people probably don't know is that he's been releasing albums since 1999, which makes "A Wasteland Companion" his seventh studio album overall, and his meteoric rise in recent years from relative obscurity into a mainstream phenomenon looks to continue with the release of this album.
Why's that, you ask? Well, for starters, his approach to singer-songwriter is much warmer and more accessible than most artists in the genre. While he carries over the soft acoustic guitar strumming and indie rock styled calm vocals, his songs are very mainstream sounding in that they fill larger spaces and are so easily likable. If we dissect a song like "Primitive Girl", for instance, we'll notice that it's basically like a low-key, piano supported version of the stadium rock of Coldplay. While most other songs aren't as grand in their soundscapes, there's a sense of catchy to all his arrangements that allow the general public to get into his songs easily despite the consistent feeling that there's something more going on underneath the surface. So don't come in expecting superfluous melodies or anything like that, this is just singer-songwriter simplified a little bit without sacrificing the heart and soul of the style.
"A Wasteland Companion" is therefore one of those albums that you can just pop on any moment without causing duress to anyone around you. It's a warm, smooth-flowing singer-songwriter album with solid melodies and a likable sense of experimentalism attached to it. No wonder his songs become such big hits lately.
Download: Clean Slate (for Alex & El Goodo), Sweetheart, Primitive Girl, I Get Ideas
For the fans of: Monsters Of Folk, Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes, Wilco
Release date 06.04.2012
Merge Records / Bella Union / Spunk Records