Hailing from Portland, M. Ward is on tour for his eighth studio album, More Rain (2016). Matthew Ward has performed as a solo artist for more than fifteen years and is known for being half of She & Him with Zooey Deschanel and the folk-rock group Monsters of Folk, which includes Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Well-known favorites from Ward’s past albums include “Chinese Translation” and “Poison Cup” from Post-War (2006), as well as “Never Had Nobody Like You” from Hold Time (2009). Sweeter, lesser-known gems include “Vincent O’Brien” from Transfiguration of Vincent (2003) and “The First Time I Ran Away” from A Wasteland Companion (2012).

With Ward’s distinctive croon, the slow, sleepy melodies on “More Rain” are soaked with fog and dew. “I’m listening, I’m listening, / I hear it all,” he sings on “I’m Listening (Child’s Theme).” The few words echo, as if dripping. The first track is a minute of rain pattering, which is appropriate for what’s to follow. The Beach Boys cover “You’re So Good To Me” is brilliant yet subtle, and tracks like “Slow Driving Man” (“This is a song about a slow driving man,” is how it begins) and “Phenomenon” seem to take their time, making the album an easy one to leave on.

Two of Ward’s upcoming NorCal shows are Thursday, July 7 at McNear’s Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, CA and on Friday, July 8 at the newly-renovated UC Theatre in Downtown Berkeley. Located on University Avenue near the city’s arts district, the concert hall originally opened in 1917 but was closed in 2001 due to seismic retrofitting. This year marks its reopening, with an impressive lineup of diverse artists and shows over the summer.

Ward will be performing in Berkeley with Nice As Fuck (NAF), the new supergroup consisting of Jenny Lewis, Au Revior Simone’s Erika Spring, and the Like’s Tennessee Thomas. Father John Misty, who penned the group’s official bio, called them “objectively the best all-female band in the last 25 years.”

Article by Valerie Law

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