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Local Songwriter: M. Ward

Album calls for chair-rocking, foot-tapping
by: ©2006 DE WILDE, For “Post-War,” M. Ward invited guests Neko Case and Jim James to contribute, but the show’s his own.

'I lived with many ghosts when I was younger,' sings Portland singer-songwriter M. Ward on the third track of his new album, 'Post-War.'

That could explain the antique glow of the record, the dusty tone of his vocals and the wonderfully unhurried pace of these 12 new songs.

A profile-boosting tour with like-minded souls Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and Jim James (My Morning Jacket) may have introduced his music to a wider audience, but Ward remains true to his laid-back roots, blending his love of sunny SoCal pop with a hazy acoustic Northwest vibe.

James and alt-country chanteuse Neko Case both make guest appearances on the album, but 'Post-War' is Ward's show, and his charmingly creaky voice is equally suited to the delicate acoustic strains of the title track and rowdier numbers like 'Right in the Head' and 'Magic Trick.'

If Ward has a magic trick, it's in his ability to translate the intimate and somewhat loose feel of a live show onto his albums.

At times, 'Post-War' has the feel of a lazy afternoon back-porch singalong - in the best possible way.

-Barbara Mitchell

8 p.m. SATURDAY, Sept. 30, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., 503-225-0047, $15, all ages