After spending three years as a team player in super-groups both large (Monsters of Folk) and small (She & Him), M. Ward made a welcome return to solo artistry and sonic minimalism last month with the release of his seventh album, A Wasteland Companion. Keeping with its dystopian title, the collection of songs sees the critically feted troubadour turning his back on the sunny AM pop sounds of She & Him and returning to the plaintive finger-picked folk on which he initially made his mark. Lead single "Primitive Girl," with its catchy piano-driven groove, is ultimately a red herring. The bulk of Wasteland finds Ward where he's always belonged: croaking cryptic tales of disappointment atop technically stunning acoustic guitar work. Expect Ward and his group of longtime collaborators to lean heavily on boisterous full-band numbers, but here's hoping he saves room for at least a few of his latest bummed-out solo-acoustic masterpieces. With Chris Scruggs. 18+
Thu., May 24, 6 p.m., 2012
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