Review by: Kali Ah Yuen
Video & Photos courtesy of Artist

Portland artist Matthew Stephen “M.” Ward returns to the music scene unveiling the music video for his new single “Girl From Conejo Valley” from his eighth solo album, More Rain.

Directed by Ward and Carlos Foster, the track is a nostalgic trot through people he used to know and a place he used to be. The video takes place in Conejo Valley, California portraying scenic footage of the area from the mountains to the valleys. As the Indie Folk tune plays, various men are portrayed throughout each scene. These men portray the multiple affairs of the artist’s ex- lover who is shown for a brief moment at the beginning having a picnic with one of the men. The humorous nicknames that are given to each man as their screen time approaches, such as “Slow Thinking” Lincoln with the nickname “Needles” who is shown itching himself as if he is in need of more drugs, balances out the gloomy lyrics. After the introduction of each man, the song continues to tell the story of how his ex-lover now “knows him well,” referring to each love affair. Scenes of a helicopter come to play followed by a white rabbit whose eyes blink red to the beat of the song. These scenes are typical of Wards videos metaphorically representing different parts of the song.

Ward’s musical style of mixing Alternative-Country and an American Primitivism beat is distinct throughout the video as guitar and electric sounds take over at certain moments. The end scene portrays the artist underwater playing the guitar in a humorous fashion. The video is a comical twist on a modern love story, which is a sneak peek into the theme of his new album before it releases.

The music video along with the album has a different theme from Ward’s previous release in 2012 with A Wasteland Companion. More Rain finds the artist picking up the tempo and volume a bit with Ward looking at life from the inside gazing out. What began four years ago and was imagined initially as a DIY doo-wop album that would feature Ward experimenting with layering his own voice, was branched out in different directions. Ward largely credits this change to his collaborators who include R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, k.d. lang, The Secret Sisters, and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ.

The singer-songwriter and producer has learned to shine through the doggy gloom after spending the last decade-and-a-half based in Portland, Oregon by simply embracing its inevitability. The result is a collection of upbeat, sonically ambitious yet canonically familiar songs that both propel Ward’s reach and satisfy longtime fans. Ward has announced several spring tour dates on top of the release of More Rain, which is on March 4 via Merge Records. Music enthusiasts can pre-order More Rain on CD or LP in the Merge store or digitally via iTunes. The first 750 pre- orders will receive a limited edition translucent red vinyl.

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