Artist Profile: M. Ward

2/01/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Megan O'Malley

He may have been born Matthew Steven Ward, but the music world knows him as M. Ward. The soft spoken singer-songwriter may have started off as a solo artist, but has slowly turned himself into a duet act with indie queen Zooey Deschanel.

Ward began playing in Portland, Oregon where he rose to prominence. In 1999, his album "Duets for Guitars #2" was released without much critical acclaim, yet he pushed on--Ward continued to release albums and slowly gained a following. Critics have praised his style of music and how he deftly blends rock, folk, country and blues into a sound that is timeless. In 2002, Ward was asked by Conor Oberst to tour with Bright Eyes as their opening act. By the time his third studio album, "Transfiguration of Vincent," was released, M. Ward had become a bona-fide star in the indie music world.

One of the things that makes Ward stand out from the thousands of other singer-songwriters is the fact that his voice is so quiet. He was quoted as saying, “"I started recording in my parents' house when I was 16 and, not wanting to wake anybody up, you just start to sing quieter and play quieter. . . . People who only know the records think I'm really old or from the South.”

Although he primarily is known as a solo artist, Ward has been making waves with his recent collaborations. He is part of a super-group known as the Monsters of Folk. Aside from Ward, the group features Jim Jones from My Morning Jacket and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes as members. The four released a self-titled album late last year. The project was a five-year endeavor due to the members’ commitments to their main bands.

As previously mentioned, Ward also works with actress Zooey Deschanel in a duo act known as She and Him. Their first album, entitled "Volume One," was released in 2008. "Volume One" is a mix of classics and songs written by Deschanel. While Ward takes a back seat on vocals with She and Him, he helped arranged the album and plays the guitar. Early this year, She and Him released "Volume Two," which features more songs written by Deschanel and a collaboration with Tilly and the Wall. M. Ward’s distinct style draws listeners in and makes them yearn for more.

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