M. Ward, 'Hold Time' (Merge)

7
Hold Time
Critical Mass
Label: Merge

by David Peisner

Matt Ward's playful leads and warm, insistent strum make him the rare indie-rock guitarist with an instantly recognizable style. His voice is also distinctive, though more for its limitations: He sings like he's got a stuffy nose and a throat full of sawdust. It's to Ward's credit that he knows exactly what to do with both instruments. On "Fisher of Men," he drops shuffling guitars over a locomotive backbeat borrowed from Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," and on "Blake's View," his rasp tightens, chasing an organ up an octave with emotionally satisfying results. It takes a minute for the standouts here to stand out, but it's an enjoyable wait.

Listen: M. Ward, "Never Had Nobody Like You"(DOWNLOAD MP3)

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