In such a strange time of world history, M. Ward’s ninth full LP Migration Stories, out now via ANTI-, finds its way to present soothing soundscapes and impressive instrument writing. Throughout the 11 track album, M. Ward presents songs that ring from his tried and true methods of songs.
Throughout the singer/song-writer’s career, M. Ward has gone from a solo act, to incorporating more musicians to help present his ideas with a fully backed band, to perhaps bloating his songs with too much sound on his last venture. This latest release sees M. Ward showing more restraint on his instrumentation choices, but still taking risks on a number of tracks.
Lead track, “Migration of Souls” beautifully sums up a top-tier song that is minimalistic, but still provides for a gorgeous guitar picking. “Stevens’ Snow Man” and “Rio Drone” provide for great guitar instrumental tracks that easily stands alongside “Duet for Guitar #3” and “The Crooked Spine” all while showcasing M. Ward’s impressive ability to essentially use his guitar as another voice. “Coyote Mary’s Traveling Show” and “Torch” call back to M. Ward’s work back on “Post War” and “Hold Time.”
Despite all this, M. Ward still finds ways to experiment and test new instruments. “Independent Man” features a brief saxophone in the introduction while “Real Silence” and “Unreal City” are songs that flirt with some more psychedelic synthesizers, the former track practically being completely soaked in synths.
This new way of incorporating more instruments is subtle but enough to leave curiosity as to where M. Ward could go in the future.
M. Ward is an artist who doesn’t have to change too often to deliver a satisfying album, but his continuing experimentation with his formula leads to impressive results and curiosity as to where he’ll go in the future.
Migration Stories is a beautifully constructed album that easily stands tall amongst M. Ward’s past 3 albums, not necessarily a return to his former self, but delivering a sense of cohesion that may have been missing on earlier efforts. It also comes in time during mass panic and uncertainty in the future to offer a relaxing and soothing listen.
By Caleb Ortiz