***and1/2 out of *****
"Slow Driving Man" continues the title-is-what-it-says motif as Ward crawls along with vocals and sweet guitars, his playing is fine but it is his warm voice that latches onto the ear. "I'm Listening (Children's Theme)" is another more delicate offering if a touch saccharin but the energy and power gets revved for the Peter Buck aided "Temptation" which fires up the six strings.
More guests arrive to help out as Neko Case provides backing vocals on the driving/pleading "Time Won't Wait" which features a winning piano break while k.d. lang is also in the backup mode for "Little Baby". That track and a host of others have a 50's malt shop vibe that is mixed with an indie rock twist; a combo is successful throughout.
That early-rock-meets-indie-gloom becomes most evident on Ward's lone cover, The Beach Boy's "You're So Good To Me". It warbles around with backing vocals, needle like guitar work and takes a more world weary approach to the Brian Wilson penned tune sounding fuller and modern with retro roots.
One song that didn't seem to jive was the muddled "Girl From Conejo Valley" with its odd lyrics and moog solo, out of place with the rest of the disk. While there is a clear mood on the album their are bright spots with the excellently produced sound of "Confession" complete with great bass line and trumpet work before the upward looking disk closer "I'm Going Higher".
The ever moving Ward is probably already eyeing a new solo release and more side projects but with the quality and output this high he should keep on keepin' on; through More Rain, sleet or snow.
We loved M. Ward's contributions to Monsters of Folk, and still dig that album (when is the next one?!?!), but never really dug that much She and Him. This solo release is great top to bottom though.
Support the artist, buy the album, peep some video: