Burning like a silver flame

M. Ward sees little difference when it comes to old and new ideas of love.

by Keri Carlson

The most romantic stories make falling in love seem old fashioned. It’s the same kind of charm found flipping through your grandparents’ wedding photos. A good love story is classic. Maybe too much cynicism in our current culture has made many of us believe that walks in the park and sharing a malt are ancient practices not applicable to a generation that “hooks up” casually and without shame. But love is not old fashioned at all. Rather, it is timeless.

Because M. Ward plays intimate songs deeply rooted in Americana which center around heartache and the spinning head sensation that someone amazing gives you, he is often mistaken for an old-fashioned romantic. He challenges the notion that romance lives solely in the past in his song “Fool Says,” in which he sings, “You thought that all romantic fools had died / I’m here to tell you that they lied.”

Much of M. Ward’s work does indeed sound old, like a scratched 45 record of a folksy blues artist from the 1940s. “My head is stuck in the past. It fortifies me more to listen to old records,” the artist admitted. But he also said, “It’s strange talking to people saying this is old music. In my opinion it isn’t that old. Old music now is Bananarama! I think of old music more like 15th century classical composers.”

Though M. Ward’s albums dig into roots music, he never sounds as if he is simply rehashing the past and repeating other people’s work. While classic country and blues artists are his most obvious influences, M. Ward adds dashes of punk and experimental music that were made within his lifetime. His blend of these different styles works so well because he sees how they fit together, how they are similar.

“There are more similarities between what Robert Johnson and (Sonic Youth guitarist) Thurston Moore do than there are differences,” M. Ward said. “I don’t draw too much of a line in music, it’s all the same era to me. 20th century music fits into one puzzle.”

M. Ward’s album of last year, “Transfiguration of Vincent,” finds quickly plucked guitar strings with a soft touch of twang gently rolling over layers of hazy guitars and M. Wards dusty vocals. It seems as though M. Ward has, in a way, transcended time. He turned styles associated with the past into something unique and vibrant. “Transfiguration” is not an album that will slowly fade into time. His beautiful melodies will forever be just as charming. The only word that truly captures M. Ward’s music is timeless.