Rhythm & Views

M. Ward

The idea of putting time on hold--at least temporarily--is apropos when thinking about M. Ward's work. Hold Time might be Ward's most iconic, brightly imagined work yet. From beginning to end, it perfectly articulates his distinct form of joissance--the happiness/sadness of re-invoking what has been lost to the passage of time in order to experience the bliss of temporarily escaping the contemporary.

The album is littered with standout, dynamic songs--"To Save Me," "Epistemology" and "Never Had Nobody Like You"--though perhaps it's the wistful feel of his most stripped-down tracks that best showcases Ward's project. "One Hundred Million Years," a country-tinged spiritual about indelibility that appears right at the album's midpoint, serves as a fine distillation of Hold Time's central idea. Ward sings, "This love between you and I / Is older than that burning ball of fire up in the sky / And the gale that fills our sails," extending the album's motifs of travel (by ocean and train, especially) and destructive natural forces haunting wayward lovers.

Hold Time is a romantic record, and a darkly optimistic one. On "Shangri-La," he pleads, "Forget-me-not this time tomorrow / I gave all I got, but this time no sorrow," while envisioning his own death as a moment of ebullience, when he gets to "see the expression of the face of my sweet Lord."

With Hold Time, Ward achieves the timelessness the album strives to articulate, and guarantees that he won't be forgotten.

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