M. Ward, who sings in a hushed rasp that rarely registers above a murmur, may not be the first vocalist to leap to mind when thinking of modern equivalents to Billie Holiday. An Americana minimalist with a penchant for arty atmosphere, Ward appears to exist on an entirely different plane from Holiday, a singer who always seemed like she was mining the depths of her soul.
M. Ward 's Think of Spring is the culmination of a life long love of Holiday: "I first heard 'Lady In Satin' in a mega-shopping mall somewhere in San Francisco. I was about 20 years old and didn't know much about Billie's records or her life or how her voice changed over the years. Anyway, the sound was coming from the other side of the mall and I remember mistaking her voice for a beautiful perfectly distorted electric guitar - some other-world thing floating there on this strange mournful ocean of strings and I was hooked for life." Recorded on an analogue Tascam four-track with minimal studio manipulation, Think of Spring gives a different, morose and distinctly Americana slant to those original, raw, heartbreaking bluesy numbers.
Think of Spring sees Matt Ward take a stab at the great American songbook with a homespun tribute to the great Billie Holiday, or to be more specific, her 1958 LP Lady in Satin. In keeping with his well-established analog vibe, Ward recorded most of the set on a Tascam four-track cassette recorder, and his rough-hewn croon and spectral strumming benefit from the smoky bloom of tape compression. Ward experimented with alternate tunings throughout the recording of the project, and it's impressive how he manages to bring bits and pieces of the original arrangements to the fore, even as he's redirecting the songs into uncharted territory.