Born on October 4, 1973 (some sources say 1974), in Ventura City, California, M. Ward developed his craft as a musician, singer and songwriter, releasing a series of critically lauded albums during the first decade of the 2000s, including End of Amnesia and Hold Time. In addition to his touring, he also formed the Grammy Award-nominated She & Him with actress Zooey Deschanel, with the duo releasing four albums as of mid-2013.
Background and Debut
M. Ward was born Matthew Stephen Ward on October 4, 1973 (some sources say 1974), in Ventura City, California. In his teens, he began playing his older brother's guitar and taught himself the Beatles' songbook. With influences that also included country, gospel and jazz (with Louis Armstrong a major inspiration), he played with the Americana band Rodriguez for several years.
Ward released his debut solo album, Duet for Guitars #2, in 2000 under Ow Om Recordings. The work was recorded in Portland, Oregon, where Ward set up shop.
M. Ward's style of music has been distinguished by its analog sound, with the musician preferring to rely on vintage styles of recording as well as traditional song ideas from a folk and acoustic palette. He is also a self-avowed introvert who values connecting with musicians over stardom.
Over the first decade of the 2000s, Ward released several albums, including Transfiguration of Vincent (2003), Transistor Radio (2005) and Hold Time (2009), with the latter work featuring Lucinda Williams on the remake of "Oh, Lonesome Me." He has also worked as an accompanying musician with acts like the White Stripes, Norah Jones and Cat Power.
Forming She & Him With Zooey Deschanel
Ward provided music, including a song with actress Zooey Deschanel, to the soundtrack of the 2008 film The Go-Getter. He and Deschanel furthered their collaboration thereafter, forming the duo She & Him. The duo released their debut album, Volume One, in 2008. Deschanel wrote the bulk of the tunes for the collection and sang lead, which was also the case with the act's follow-up, Volume Two. With a sound that harkens back to lush 1970s pop with twang, Volume Two reached the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart and No. 1 on the Alternative Albums chart.
The Grammy Award-nominated duo continued to find success with the 2011 album A Very She & Him Christmas, which had sold more than 300,000 copies by the spring of 2013 and reached the Billboard 200's Top 20. The album also yielded a Top 20 adult contemporary hit with its remake of "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
In addition to his She & Him work and various touring duties, Ward released a 2009 album with the group Monsters of Folks, also featuring acclaimed musicians Jim James, Mike Mogis and Conor Oberst.
In the spring of 2012, Ward put forth his seventh studio album, A Wasteland Companion, which was recorded in both the United States and United Kingdom and featured an array of contributions from various instrumentalists.
"I think that the idea of having a companion in dark times or dark places is necessary to keep going in whatever it is you do for a living," Ward said of his inspiration for the album's title in a New York Times interview. "I make music for a living. And more often than not, old records keep me going, and they keep me from getting bored or tired of what I do for a living."
In the spring of 2013, She & Him released their third album, Volume Three, with a U.S. summer tour to follow.
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