the ladies man, starring m. ward
anyone remotely familiar with sand is overrated probably knows that i love m. ward. he is a man of many abilities, from his gravelly-voiced hushed tones to his god-like finger-picking, from his impeccable songwriting to his peerless production sensibilities. his many talents have made him highly sought-after in the music world and he seems to be friends with everyone. over the years he has been involved with a number of collaborative projects, including a monsters of folk super-tour with conor oberst of bright eyes and jim james of my morning jacket (video evidence here). he also seems to have a penchant for working with the finest ladies of indie rock, including chan marshall, jenny lewis, beth orton, and neko case.
in a note to matador records, chan tells of her first encounter with m. ward:
leading to Tallahasse, he probably is, despite the
leading well known greats to all of us,
he probably is, the best thing going.
he goes under his musicianship name : M.Ward
and he can play and
he can sing like a great big heart
in 2004, cat power released a dvd called speaking for trees, which was roundly condemned by fans and critics alike. fortunately, the package also included an audio cd which consisted of one 18-minute track called "willie deadwilder". the song, which would later be re-recorded as simply "willie" for her 2006 release, the greatest, was recorded during the sessions for 2003's you are free but left off the final cut. in its initial incarnation, the song featured m. ward on guitar.
(i don't have this one...anyone want to help?)
for the recording of her solo debut, rabbit fur coat, jenny traveled to portland to enlist the help of her old friend, m. ward, who produced four of the songs on the album. he also joined jenny with conor oberst and ben gibbard on a mike mogis-produced song, a cover of the the traveling wilburys' seminal classic "handle with care". this is the obvious selection here, but instead i will go with one of the tracks that ward produced, number 11, "it wasn't me". the lazy guitar has ward's signature all over it, and with the volume up you can hear him quietly at the end..."say goodnight, jenny". this also was not the first time the two had worked together, as jenny provided backing vocals to a song called "big boat", off ward's 2005 release transistor radio.
jenny lewis with the watson twins : "it wasn't me"
from the lp rabbit fur coat (team love, 2006)
m. ward : "big boat"
from the lp transistor radio (merge records, 2005)
ward also has a history with british singer/songwriter beth orton that goes back a few years. in 2003, during a set at largo in hollywood, ward joined orton on stage for several songs, including a cover of bob dylan's "buckets of rain". the set also included early performances of "heartland truckstop" and "pieces of sky", which would both later appear on orton's 2006 release, comfort of strangers. it was probably during this time that the two co-wrote two other songs eventually released on that album: the title track (with jim o'rourke) and "shopping trolley".
beth orton and m. ward : "buckets of rain"
from a live performance at largo in hollywood, california (2003)
beth orton : "shopping trolley"
from the lp comfort of strangers (astralwerks, 2006)
finally, for his latest release, post-war, ward enlisted the unmatched vocal abilities of neko case for his cover of daniel johnston's "to go home". a series of tour dates followed the release of post-war, with neko touring in support of her own fox confessor brings the flood.
m. ward : "to go home"
from the lp post-war (merge records, 2006)
just when you think he can't possibly have time for more friends and collaborations, he shows up as a guest vocalist on norah jones' just-completed album, not too late, to be released on blue note records on january 30, 2007. such is the life of indie rock's ladies man, i guess.
sorry, but i just couldn't help myself: