If you've never heard an M. Ward album, Post-War might seem like a revelation -- gently rocking tunes that meld ragtime jazz, sepia-toned alt-country, dazzling fingerpicked instrumentals and Matt Ward's ageless, croaky purr into what feels like a dusty postcard from an era of seamed stockings and transistor radios. What's disappointing if you're a fan is that the man has his tropes -- both melodic and lyrical -- and stubbornly sticks to 'em. The jaunty eulogy Requiem revises the thematic content of Vincent O'Brien, couched in Helicopter's rollicking cadence (both from Ward's Transfiguration Of Vincent disc), while the laundry-list approach and distorted effects of Transfiguration's Sad, Sad Song echo through tracks like Right In The Head. This is still a fine album, particularly Ward's buoyant, poppy cover of Daniel Johnston's To Go Home (featuring an underused Neko Case), and small nods to whooshy 80s production on opener Poison Cup and the title track suggest that great things lie ahead for Ward if he can learn to let go of what feels familiar.
M. Ward moseys into the Mod Club Monday (September 11).