By Kathryn G. Menu
In 2009, shortly after the release of his last solo studio album “Hold Time,” Matthew Ward – known as M. Ward – told Duff McDonald of Vanity Fair that fame and money were no friends of his.
“I learned a long time ago that fame and money is not a ticket to happiness,” said Ward. “More often than not, I think it’s a ticket to madness.”
While Ward may have successfully avoided landing on the cover of Rolling Stone, his solo efforts and renowned collaborations with artists like Zooey Deschanel, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Lucinda Williams have earned the guitarist a cult-like following in the indie-folk, alt-country music scene, and praise for the Portland, Oregon-based singer songwriter who straddles the folk, blues and rock genres, from artists like Norah Jones.
As a musician, Ward started out recording his own music and selling albums at live shows, before finding a home at Merge Records, which released “Transfiguration of Vincent” in 2003. The album earned Ward critical praise and caught the attention of Oberst and Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, who invited Ward to join them on tour.
In 2005, Ward released “Transistor Radio,” and after the 2006 release of “Post War,” singer songwriter Norah Jones asked Ward to join her on tour. Over the years, Ward also formed “She & Him” with actress and singer songwriter Deschanel, and is a member of “The Monsters of Folk” with Oberst and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. He has also contributed guitar and vocals to Lewis’s acclaimed solo effort “Rabbit Fur Coat.”
His last solo effort was released in 2009, although according to several published reports Ward is currently working on his seventh studio album. “Hold Time” features a number of guest appearances, including Deschanel, Williams and The Decemberists’ Rachel Blumberg, and while mostly original work includes covers of Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me” and “Rave On,” recorded by Buddy Holly, a musician from an era Ward has consistently tried to capture in his work.