I cannot be said to be truly amazed at the way the world of music has been going on lately. True, there are some nice things out there, mostly to do with Jack White's guitar, but overall the picture is pretty bleak.
However, it is this bleakness that makes the nice surprises I do stumble upon from time to time to seem so nice. And lately the nicest surprise I've stumbled upon when it comes to music is called M Ward.
I first heard about him when his previous album, Transistor Radio, was reviewed in The Age's Green Guide - in a section that reviews new music that is not of the usual pop trash.
Then, while I was recovering from my operation, the Green Guide gave 5 stars to his new album: Post-War. So I gave it a try, and it was just great!
I cannot be said to be able to review music, which is why I'm telling you about Ward in here and not in R-Views (not that my movie or book reviewing skills are up to any good anyway). However, I can say that I really like Ward's mix of melancholy yet smart lyrics, blues guitar, and a general mix of blues themes (with some country musical elements thrown in, which really made me worried since I would hate to look in the mirror and find a hillbilly). If I can make any complaint it would be the relatively rare deployment of an electric guitar: I like noise, you see. Maybe he can get Jimmy Page for a guest appearance on his next album (Jerry Lee Lewis did in another nice new album, and both of them do Led Zep's "Rock and Roll" much pride).
I played a bit with Pandora to find that an older album of Ward's, The Transfiguration of Vincent, is even a moodier go at things than Post-War; which, depending on your mood can be better or worse. I recommend you listen to Ward's take on Bowie's "Let's Dance" for one mean interesting yet poignant cover version. Personally, I'm happy with the privilege of being able to listen to both albums.
Today I learned that Ward is visiting Melbourne during the Xmess - New Year break. Obviously he's coming here to enjoy summer at its peak... His show in Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road, is sold out already (and at $142 a ticket, someone is going to make a killing). Ward has another show at the Corner Hotel in Richmond (for only $42), but that's standing room only. Given that we're talking an enclosed pub with a bunch of beer sapping crowds at too close a proximity, and with my ears being as sensitive as they are, I think I'll give it a pass.
Still - it's great to have Ward's music on my MP3 player. Makes the time at work pass really quickly.