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Boomkat Product Review:
Returning to his solo career after joining with Zooey Deschanel for last year's She & Him project, M. Ward unveils a fresh sound, driven by revamped, expanded arrangements. The bluegrass roots still shine through, but clearly the vintage, radio-friendly sounds of She & Him's countrified bubblegum made an impact on Ward's creative persona. Deschanel returns to assist on Hold Time, adding vocals to 'Never Had Nobody Like You', one of several unashamedly pop-oriented efforts to light up the album. This one's a crunching, country-rocking glam stomp decked out with a convincing line in '70s effects and production techniques, all notched up to cartoonish levels. 'To Save Me' and 'Stars Of Leo' make for two more impressively ornate confections, taking cues from master craftsmen like Brian Wilson, and in particular, Phil Spector (check out the snapping castanets and tolling bells), layering on textured, bombastic orchestrations. Revealing a slower burning, possibly more substantial side to the album, the Lucinda Williams duet 'Oh Lonesome Me' is wholly marvellous, full of weary romance and expertly sculpted strings, showing that beyond the rollicking three-minuters there's a real depth to Hold Time. Very highly recommended.