"I wouldn't want to cover a Hank Williams song in a country-western way," he said.
"It doesn't occur to me instinctually to re-create productions. Putting different clothes on them." An indie mecca After coffee, Ward and I hopped into his Subaru for a tour of the Portland that's nurtured him since he moved here with a handful of his college pals. Tabor, a big hill rife with evergreens where he often takes his headphones to listen to mixes, and the attic studio of Mike Coykendall, where he's recorded parts of his last few albums.
"There's a relationship between music and spirituality and inspiration and to a certain extent improvisation that draws me in, because I don't totally understand it," said Ward. You are exploring these mysteries that you're probably never gonna solve." Like a collage artist or a postmodern novelist, Ward reconstitutes the past in ways that make us experience it differently.
His seventh solo studio album, "Hold Time," comes out Tuesday on Merge Records. It's evolved." Since releasing his first album on Giant Sand bandleader Howe Gelb's tiny label 10 years ago, Ward, who was born in Ventura County and moved to Portland after college, has kept walking through those open doors.
It's a high point in a consistently thought-provoking career, comparable to Joe Henry's "Trampoline" or John Prine's "Bruised Orange." "I love the idea that I planned my career. "It started out by getting invitations from artists that I really love and respect, to share a stage. His career is a model of sustainability and slow growth in the midst of the music industry's widely heralded collapse.
Every neighborhood had its own strip of yoga studios, refurbished classic movie theaters, bookstores and, of course, cafes.
Though some forge a space in the entertainment industry hubs of New York and Los Angeles, artists like Ward thrive in midsize cities like Portland, where relative isolation breeds community and a do-it-yourself attitude.
Patchwork songs Ward similarly redesigns old patterns in his songs.