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M. Ward - Hold Time (Merge)

M. Ward‘s specialty is singing about the universal and timeless theme of all music (love) with a great voice. You can just as easily imagine listening to him sing these songs while riding a train across the country in the 1950s as sitting in a dive bar in Portland. ‘Hold Time’ is the follow-up to his excellent ‘Post-War‘ (undoubtedly one of my favorite albums of all time), and the similarities are evident between the two. Both rely on picked guitar and Ward’s excellent and distinctive singing to carry the song; each song builds off this in a different way. Songs commonly incorporate piano, drums, bass, more guitar, or keyboards. While there is no song as beautiful as ‘Requiem’ and no song as anthemic as ‘Chinese Translation’, this album shines in other ways – ‘For Beginners’ is (fittingly) the most immediately catchy track he’s written, and ‘Rave On’ has more swing than anything we’ve heard before. Though I’d rate this as slightly inferior to ‘Post-War’, it’s still a great album by one of the best pure songwriters our generation.

-Fleet Admiral Zipper