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September 06, 2006 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-06

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Ward peddles
nostalgia on LP

By Matt Emery
Daily Arts Writer
Some musicians just don't get the
recognition they deserve.
Enter indie guitarist Matt Ward.
You could expect the Oregon native to
return with a gem fol-
lowing 2005's Tran- M. Ward
sistor Radio and his
production of Jenny Post-War
Lewis's Rabbit Fur Merge
Coat. But Post-War
skips the penetrating
social criticism of the title, and replac-
es it with soft and stagnant melodies
that evoke more of a post-WWII than,
say, post-Sept. 11 mood.
In sharp contrast to Neil Young's
Living With War, Ward has no grip-
ping narratives describing the
troubles in Iraq. No poignant predic-
tions of hostilities in Iran. No calls
of impeachment for Texans - just
tracks brimming with nostalgia that
slyly prove complementary to current
events.
Post-War dabbles with folk of the
'60s and '70s. The slow temno gui-
tar strumsand soft-se vocir f

Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan glow
through Ward's innocent attempts.
Yet the new-age, folk wails of recent
tourmate Conor Oberst also influence
various tracks. Abstract images of lost
love and the ups and downs of life run
rampant. "Roller Coaster" wallows
with a '40s barroom piano riff and
droning vocals, "Roller coaster it was
the best of times / Roller coaster it was
the worst of times, too."
Ward also transitions deftly into the
use of a full backing band - some-
thing that was missing from his pre-
vious recordings. He also employs
My Morning Jacket's Jim James for
background harmonics on the country
campfire sing-a-long "Chinese Trans-
lation." Neko Case joins in on one of
the album's more energetic highlights,
"To Go Home." The quick guitar riffs
and giddy, melodic chanting will
instantly lead even the most stone-
faced indie concertgoers to shake
their collective ass.
"Right in the Head" echoes the
true nostalgic sentiment of the album,
reaching a stirring climax of elec-
tric guitar riffs and vocal layering
before slamming into a 1940s movie
theme; suddenly the song becomes

"Meet me in the coffee shop. It's going dooowwwwn."

charming buzzing-bee sound effects.
The title track ripples with folksy
guitar but yet never settles into easy-
going pace.
Each time Ward attempts another
look back into sepia-toned grief, he
handcuffs the song with trite, sad
sack lyrics and dull, false production.
Ward quips "Say, the money just ain't

lyrics could be used to take a jab at
this post-war world, but instead it all
just gets forced into tired, revisionist
nostalgia.
"Magic Trick" sparks the album
back to life with a quick and simple
narrative - complete with an intro
of clapping and cheering - of a nifty
woman that rolls through men. "She's

that's it / She disappears." "Today's
Undertaking;" combines turmoil and
hope into one song, complete with a
sorrowful lyrical introduction that is
quickly met with a Celtic orchestral
piece. "Afterword / Rag" ends the
album with a guitar instrumental. But
neither manage to break P-W out of
the monotony of the rest of the dull

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