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M. Ward: Sounds Of A Different Time And Place

Originally published on April 10, 2012 3:16 am

M. Ward's music inspires a sense of wonder — it recalls many sounds from a different time and place.

"I get most of my inspiration from older records and older production styles," Ward says, "and that ends up rearing its head in the records that I make. One of the great things about music is that it has the capability of time travel — you smell a certain smell in the room and it takes you back to your childhood. I feel like music is able to do that, and it happens to me all the time."

The making of Ward's new album, A Wasteland Companion, took him to some faraway places. He recorded his new material in eight different studios — from Austin to England — and had to reckon with spending more time away from his native Portland, Ore., often on tour.

"There's a lot of songs on the record that are about being away versus being home, and trying to bridge gaps, and how inspiration plays into all of that," he says.

Ward says he hopes listeners hear the album as a musical travelogue — "where the listener sort of does this traveling with the artist around to all these different places, and so there's this movement inferred in the listening of the record."


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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's go now to the musician M. Ward. The M is for Matt. But just as his stage name suggests a little mystery, M. Ward's music inspires a sense of wonder. It's reminiscent of sounds from a different time and place.

Take the song, "Sweetheart."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWEETHEART")

M. WARD: (Singing) You have a sweet heart, sweetheart. You have a nice smile, baby. You drove me crazy down lover's lane.

Well, I get most of my inspiration from older records and older production styles, older guitar styles. And that ends up rearing its head in the records that I make.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWEETHEART")

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: The making of his new album, "A Wasteland Companion," took M. Ward to some faraway places - Austin, Texas; Bristol, England; eight studios in all. He had to reckon with spending more and more time away, often on tour, from his native Portland, Oregon.

WARD: There's a lot of songs on the record that are about being away versus being home, and trying to bridge gaps, and how inspiration plays into all of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE FIRST TIME I RAN AWAY")

MONTAGNE: M. Ward hopes listeners hear "A Wasteland Companion" as a kind of musical travelogue.

WARD: Where the listener sort of does this traveling with the artist around to all these different places, and so there's this movement inferred in the listening of the record.

MONTAGNE: One place M. Ward takes us is into the control room of a nameless TV station - and the mind of one of its bitter employees - in the song "Watch the Show."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATCH THE SHOW")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATCH THE SHOW")

MONTAGNE: The musical tales from guitarist and singer M. Ward. Hear more at NPRMusic.org. His new album, "A Wasteland Companion," is out today.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "I GET IDEAS")

MONTAGNE: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.