"A Wasteland Companion" may be Matt Ward's eighth solo album under the name of M. Ward, but the singer and songwriter says getting into music was almost just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

"I never thought out this career in writing songs," he says. "I started playing guitar since there was one sitting around in my house and learned the entire Beatles catalogue."

A couple of decades, and a lot of albums later -- in addition to his solo releases he is known for his three albums with actress Zooey Deschanel, as She & Him and one with other modern indie folk stars under the humorous moniker of Monsters of Folk -- Ward's warmth and spirit still shines through on "A Wasteland Companion." For Ward, it's as simple as connecting in his songs with people, regardless of who or where they are.

"I believe that music is capable of breaking all kinds of gaps,"?he says, "whether it's geographical, or time."


He often takes long pauses between thoughts.

"You hear a classical piece and you can feel more informed about the 19th century," he continues. "I think that it's able to bridge spiritual gaps between what happens on this planet and ... everything that surrounds it."

Spirituality aside, Ward's wasteland companion is music, through and through.

"Everyone has their own inspiration that keeps them going," he says. "I'm constantly amazed at the millions of things that people take inspiration from. For some reason, mine is the power that music has in people's lives."

The companions on 'Companion'

While "Wasteland Companion" is a solo album, Ward gathers a host of his own companions on the trip through his introspec-tive lyrics, including Deschanel as well as members from Bright Eyes and Sonic Youth.

"I love the process of introducing a new song to someone who's never heard it who also happens to be a talented musician," he says. "Getting their first take on tape is great fuel for production."

While he enjoys collaborating, he also takes inspiration from past songwriters. "Wasteland" features Louis Armstrong and Daniel Johnston cover songs.

"The song has to move you in some way," he says of his covers criteria, "the same reason that certain books or movies make you feel something."

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