1. For Beginners (AKA Mt. Zion)
2. Never Had Nobody Like You (f/Zooey Deschanel)
4. Hold Time
5. Rave On (f/Zooey Deschanel)
6. To Save Me (f/Jason Lytle)
7. One Hundred Million Years
8. Stars of Leo
9. Fisher of Men
10. Oh, Lonesome Me (f/Lucinda Williams)
12. Blake’s View
14. Outro (AKA I’m A Fool To Want You)
I am a huge M. Ward fan. I admit this to let you know at the start that I am admittedly not impartial. M. Ward evokes emotion and memories in me that no other man's voice should. I remember my first listen over a make-shift dinner with friends in Saint Augustine, years ago. We then went on a bicycle ride to get ice cream and it rained- we got poured on, but we didn't care, because we were young and stupid and in love. Yada yada... That is the sentimentality that I fight with when I try to pull myself together long enough to see if in fact this album is any good, or if it's just me. Then I remember when I saw him perform live a few years back at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro. It was one of the first shows I saw when I moved here and still bears special significance due to its intimacy. I also think of the afternoon teas that I play his instrumental stuff for my wife and reminisce about the good ole days of 75 degree afternoons and weeping willows and no looming exegesis papers. Needless to say I'm a sucker for some Matt Ward.
Now that my bias is out in the open, I must say Hold Time is solid. Solid is the best I can come up with because that's what it is. There's a little bit of new stuff, sound-wise (the crunchy Never Had Nobody Like You) and content-wise (the parabolic Fishers of Men). But mostly it's the same ole stuff, neither a step forward or back. My favorite moments are definitely Fishers of Men, To Save Me, and Epistemology (come on, I'm a self-respecting seminary student for Goodness sake). And my least is probably the title track or the Lucinda Williams cover: weird, weak sauce.
But you can always count on a peaceful instrumental closer, just like at the Cradle a few years back. Shredding, pacific closure that musically punctuates the album the way the beatitude, "Blessed are the Peacemakers," punctuates his liner notes. Enjoy this disc, fall in love with and from this album. Peace be with you.