Portland, Oregon-based singer/songwriter Ward grew up listening to gospel and country, two genres that figure prominently in his breezy, West Coast take on Americana. After years forging a solo career in the cosy backwater of the US alt-country and indie-folk scenes his 2012 album, A Wasteland Companion, flirted with the Billboard top 20. His heightened profile was partly due to his collaboration with Zooey Deschanel in the duo She & Him but mainly it was down to his prodigious talent.
His gravelly-yet-gentle voice and outsider narratives have led to comparisons with Tom Waits, but Ward is a far more intimate and naturalistic performer. Backed by a three-piece band, he is a diminutive and intense showman who ranges through a set of powerful songs sounding like anxious inner monologues externalized.
Pitchfork called his stunning new album, More Rain, “ the result of hours of careful, precise attention, but they feel magnificent in their decadent laziness: It is indeed the kind of record you put on when the day is soaked in gloom and dimness; you listen to when you’re loafing so hard that you can barely bring yourself to flip the record, much less leave the house and brave the elements.”