Girl From Conejo Valley
Label: Merge Records
Ragged, inviting, and spiked with flourishes from horns ("Confession"), moaning synths ("Girl From Conejo Valley"), and cheerfully dirty knots of guitar ("You're So Good to Me"), M. Ward's first album of mid-fi Americana in four years doesn't shift any of the singer/songwriter's old habits. Ward's lyrics have a relaxed, lovelorn mellowness that matches the ambling music, and he's cheerfully aided by a jangling phalanx of guests, including Neko Case ("Time Won't Wait") and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck ("Phenomenon" and "Temptation").