The wandering minstrel isn’t rally a thing, especially during our current state of being. However, if you listen to the new album Migration Stories by M. Ward, in some ways that’s the vibe you get. On his tenth solo release, Ward takes the narrative of his grandfather immigrating to the US and sews together a tapestry of tones that will take you to another place.
In some ways the album has this poetic nature, just a songwriter telling tales from his backpack. In other ways it’s a collection of lullabies that tell the tales of Americana one note at a time. There’s nothing revelatory here, but that’s the point. On the opening track, “Migration Of Souls” Ward sets the stage for the album’s overall feeling. The wandering track shows a gentle side of his work while delivering a more sing song approach. This occurs as well on songs like “Coyote Mary’s Traveling Show” and on “Unreal City.”
But it’s where Ward stretches his legs a bit and gets outside of his comfort zone where the album really shines. “Independent Man” has a more country emotion, donating plenty of twang and brass to take you to another place. “Along the Santa Fe Trail” opens your ears to a narrative that feels like it’s written on the back of an envelope while Ward extends into new territories as a songwriter. And “Torch” continues this trend towards a new path while keeping his feet planted in Americana music. Ward isn’t distancing too far from his norm on Migration Stories, but he’s also not playing the same role as on earlier releases.
Migration Stories is available to purchase directly from Anti Records. It can be streamed on all streaming platforms or purchased in all digital outlets. M. Ward is on tour beginning October 27 at The Caves in Edinburgh, UK until November 07 at Sodra Teatren in Stockholm, Sweden. His complete tour schedule is accessible here. Due to COVID-19, these dates are subject to change.
Image Credits: Photo by Wrenne Evans.