M. Ward: Migration Stories (ANTI-) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, August 10th, 2020  

M. Ward

Migration Stories

ANTI-

Jul 06, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


In just 36 minutes, on Migration Stories M. Ward examines the spiritual side of migration: as descendants of our ancestors and as a species adjacently above animals in the wild. Each song on his 10th studio album focuses on one specific image rather than a collage of combatant colors, and one gets instantly whisked away by whimsy. The album has an audible irradiance that’s palpable from the first track, “Migration of Souls,” and this golden glow persists throughout the LP. In this first single, Ward has orchestrated an acoustic soundscape by means of a celestial time-lapse, both lyrically and melodically. 

The record continues onward as a series of interpretative lullabies whose buoyancy is upheld by the dissonance between Ward’s raspy vocals and the soft, reverberated instrumentation. He revives both personal and ubiquitous lore, putting the listener at the edge of the campfire, close enough to feel the warmth of the flames. Tacked onto his distinctive voice are textured keys, a surprise layer that transcends the record beyond the basic bar of indie folk music. Each song fills the room like a cloud rolling in before a storm, effortlessly basking the atmosphere with its presence. Even instrumental “Stevens’ Snow Man” casts the listener away to a field of untouched snow, prodded only by fresh flakes of ice. 

Halfway through Migration Stories, there is a brief shift in tone on “Unreal City,” a hop, skip, and a jump to a more upbeat expanse, where synth and vocables roam free. By the next song, we rocket back to Ward’s woozy galaxy of enigmatic theory and existential questioning. His cover of the 1956 tune “Along the Santa Fe Trail” feels tailor-made for a singer steeped in nostalgia, particularly for a project with so many allusions to the past. He muses with purpose, which is just as soothing as it is stimulating. The final track is another instrumental, a thank-you and a goodbye, sending the listener off on their own journey of empathy, genealogy, and self-discovery. With this latest project, M. Ward paints a sequence of tableaus which are strung together as a patched-up pilgrimage. (www.mwardmusic.com).

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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