M. Ward is a rarity: an artist who started out as something of a novelty act but has gotten consistently better, blossoming into one of the most expressive, interesting songwriters on the current indie scene. His first album, End of Amnesia, was good but samey: scratchy, faint, analog, like on old homemade folk recording you found in your grandma’s attic. With every album since, the music has opened up, becoming more rich and varied. His latest is an EP, To Go Home, from which the title song is taken. It’s just fantastic.
There’s a certain group of artists working now — Ward, Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley), Jim James (of My Morning Jacket) — that make, for lack of a better term, sing-along music (often together — they all sing on each other’s albums). Or maybe community music is a better term. This song is a great example — it’s as though a big group of friends were hanging out in the studio and got drafted to be the backing chorus. I’m a sucker for that vibe. It’s a great antidote to the clinical, overproduced sound of most modern popular music. There’s something tribal and authentic about it.