The album's guest stars -- First Aid Kit, Shovels & Rope, Scott McMicken, Neko Case, Jim James, others -- enliven the album with surprises. On "Too Young to Die," the women's voices in First Aid Kit spread a light frosting over the melody, and their Beach Boyslike chorus on "Engine 5" makes the song sound like an instant hit. Eight of the album's ten songs are Ward originals. There's an unusual Bowie choice, "I Can't Give Everything Away" from Blackstar, and a live rendition of Daniel Johnston's 'Story of an Artist.'" -By James Cushing.
Both as a solo artist and as one-half of She & Him, M. Ward became one of the defining voices of the American indie landscape in the 2000s, earning fans and critical acclaim for his distinctive brand of breezy West Coast Americana which pulled from folk, country, blues, pop, and experimental indie rock elements. Ward established himself with warm, analog- minded releases like 2003's Transfiguration of Vincent and 2006's Post-War before joining forces with singer/ actress Zooey Deschanel to form the highly successful indie pop duo She & Him in 2008. Over the following decade, Ward split his time between projects, releasing a 2009 album with indie supergroup Monsters of Folk, several highprofile albums with Deschanel including She & Him's Columbia- issued 2014 set Classics, and critically acclaimed solo releases like 2009's Hold Time, 2012's A Wasteland Companion, and 2018's What a Wonderful Industry. Ward kicked off the next decade with a deeply atmospheric set called Migration Stories and a Billie Holiday covers album Think of Spring most recently.
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says: Another suite of brittle balladry and swimming harmonies from the brilliant M. Ward, riding effortlessly through folky melodies, country atmospherics and Ward's distinctive melodic sensibilities, joined by some stellar guest stars to boot! Lovely.
Too Young To Die Feat. First Aid Kit
New Kerrang Feat. Scott Mcmicken
Dedication Hour Feat.
Neko Case And Gabriel Kahane
I Can't Give Everything Away (Feat. Jim James And Kelly Pratt)
Engine 5 (Feat. First Aid Kit)
Mr. Dixon (Feat. Shovels & Rope)
Story Of An Artist