About M. Ward
Matthew Stephen Ward is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist from Portland, Oregon. Ward's solo work is a mixture of folk and blues-inspired Americana analog recordings; he has released ten studio albums since 1999, primarily through independent label Merge Records. In addition to his solo work, he is a member of indie pop duo She & Him and folk-rock supergroup Monsters of Folk, and also participates in recording, producing, and playing with multiple other artists.
M. Ward was raised in Glendale, California, and moved to Portland, Oregon, after college. Growing up, Ward taught himself songs by The Beatles on his brother's guitar, and began recording demos on a four-track analog tape recorder when he was about fifteen. Ward continues to only record analog, and starts all of his songs as demos on the same recorder he has had since his teens.
Ward's solo debut, Duet for Guitars #2, was released by Co-Dependent Records in 1999, then re-issued by Howe Gelb's Ow Om record label in 2000. Described by Joshua Klein of Pitchfork as "ragged and lo-fi...recorded on a shoestring and not necessarily worse for it,"Duet for Guitars #2 soon went out of print for a second time, before being reissued by Merge in 2007.
Ward's second album, End of Amnesia, was put out by Future Farmer Records and Loose Music in 2001. In a retrospective review, Ryan Kearney of Pitchfork compares the album to a contemporary band, Sparklehorse, saying that "both Linkous and Ward are country- and folk-influenced artists who scratch unavoidable, but nominally disruptive marks on the traditional blueprint." Sparklehorse had released It's a Wonderful Life to critical acclaim earlier in the year.
A collection of live recordings, Live Music & The Voice of Strangers, was a self-released disc that was sold at his shows in 2001.
Ward released his third album, Transfiguration of Vincent, on Merge Records in 2003 to critical success. Transfiguration of Vincent received a weighted average score of 82 out of 100 by review aggregator website Metacritic, based on thirteen critical reviews, indicating "universal acclaim." The title alludes to the 1965 album The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death by John Fahey, and refers to the life and death of Vincent O'Brien, a close friend to Ward. Fahey's pre-war style of folk music and production techniques, using basic equipment and simple arrangements, greatly influenced Ward's own sound and recording practices.
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