Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter M. Ward has built a steadily growing cult following over the past decade, releasing six studio albums and collaborating with a diverse array of artists, including Cat Power, Beth Orton, My Morning Jacket, and actress Zooey Deschanel, with whom he records and performs as She & Him. His profile rose significantly in 2004 when he joined yet another frequent collaborator, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, on the Vote For Change tour, opening for rock legends R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen. Yet much of Ward's solo output seems better suited for the smaller confines of a coffeehouse than a 1,000-capacity venue like the Marquee Theatre. On his past two albums, 2006's Post-War and the recently released Hold Time, Ward branched out from the sparsely arranged, lo-fi folk that made up the bulk of his early recordings. A larger venue might benefit some of the blues- and rockabilly-driven songs from Hold Time, such as "Epistemology," "Fisher of Men," and the Buddy Holly cover "Rave On," but Ward's challenge will be to maintain the intimate quality of his early work, like his brilliantly understated take on David Bowie's "Let's Dance."
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