M. Ward is an old soul. The singer/songwriter based in Portland (real name Matt, but goes by M), played in a band called Rodriguez for six years before embarking on a solo career. He’s now seven albums in, released between 2001-12. He’s also the “Him” part of She & Him, who is comprised of Ward and Zooey Deschanel, and they just released their 3rd album together (not including their holiday album). Oh, I shouldn’t forget the Monsters of Folk project he did with Jim James, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis. I call Ward an old soul, because once you hear his music, it sounds retro and timeless. Everything is so natural sounding, it’s almost like listening to a rehearsal until you realize that everything is way too well put together for a rehearsal. His slow vocal drawl really adds to his distinct sound, plus I’m guessing he must record with vintage equipment. He’s an excellent guitar player, but not flashy. I was fortunate enough to first listen to him after his ’06 release “Post-War”, which may be his best work to date. Ward is definitely a fresh breath of air compared to much of the music that is being recorded these days. The first song I’m including is his cover of Daniel Johnston’s “To Go Home”, which also features Neko Case on background vocals. I love this track. The guitar and piano interplay as they trade riffs back and forth is great as the song kicks off. Ward’s vocals are perfect with the music, and Neko Case is a perfect addition on the chorus. My favorite line is in the second verse – “God it’s great to be alive, takes the skin right off my hide, to think I’ll have to give it all up…someday”. This line is repeated again as the song ends. The music slowly builds in speed and intensity as the track moves along. This song easily made by “Best of 2006” compilation that year.