‘A Wasteland Companion’ (Bella Union)
M Ward’s mates and muses duet with him on this schizophrenic album. It ranges from 50s pastiches (‘Sweetheart’, a Daniel Johnston cover on which Zooey Deschanel appears, and the bouncy ‘I Get Ideas’) to the truly dreamy (‘The First Time I Ran Away’ blends insistent acoustic rhythms with lush, sweeping string work). The title track is an evocative, broad-vista country-blues intro segueing into a harp-like coda of shimmering strings, while Amanda Lawrence’s neo-bluegrass violin solo on the otherwise sparse piano-based ‘Crawl After You’ is effortlessly lovely. Disparate? Yes. But as engaging as an album of mood swings can be.