M. Ward

Record review

Phases & Stages

M. Ward

Post-War (Merge)

Given its title and M. Ward's abilities as a wordsmith, it's tempting to assume Post-War is his scathing treatise on Bush the Younger's America. It's not. Its only politics are the sort manifested daily in our most intimate relationships. Ward's evildoers aren't terrorists, craven politicians, or faceless megacorporations but ordinary acquaintances, relatives, and lovers, whose greatest crimes are negligence and indifference. He's still more charitable toward others – his brother on "Right in the Head," a capricious woman on "Magic Trick" – than himself. "Everything I've loved I've forgotten," he sings on "Eyes on the Prize," not with resentment or sadness but with simple resignation. Well, almost everything; he remembers how damaging love can be, the vulnerability it creates, and how none of that ultimately matters on "Poison Cup": "If love is a poison cup, then drink it up." Ward needs someone else's song to look on the bright side, specifically Daniel Johnston's on a gorgeous cover of "To Go Home," further sweetened by Neko Case's guest vocals. In fact, most of his no-frills country and gospel melodies hint that maybe things aren't quite as dire as they seem. Ambivalent, fatalistic, heartbroken, defiantly hopeful; turns out Post-War is an American portrait after all.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

Texas Platters
The Beaumonts / Hickoids
This Is Austin, All the World's a Dressing Room (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Christopher Gray
Margaret Moser Tribute: Alvin Crow
Alvin Crow
Summer camp with the kids

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
That Margaret Moser, she’s a rainbow

June 30, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle