PORTLAND’S muchly the finest, M. Ward, has just released a video for the bloody beautiful “Violets For Your Furs”, his whisper-swoonsome take on a Billie Holiday song from his recent full album of covers of the great Lady Day, Think Of Spring.
“Violets For Your Furs” is a strumalong sway, taking the original to the fireside, simplicity itself and absolutely none the worse for it; you’ll find it a struggle to imagine these songs swingin’ with the full crescendo weight of Ray Ellis and Orchestra as originally recorded more than 60 years back. That’s saying something.
Ward brings just the right weight of implicit, sad reminiscence as he remembers bringing his amour violets; he lets the song break down a little into arpeggio before bringing it back with a 6/8 swing and a little falsetto and rhetorically carefree insouciance.
The accompanying video, directed by Holly Andres, is appropriately sleepy, with the singer-songwriter’s dream-self caught wandering the corridors and playing om grainy security footage.
M. Ward says of his own long love for the music of Lady Day: “I first heard Lady In Satin in a mega-shopping mall somewhere in San Francisco. I was about 20 years old and didn’t know much about Billie’s records or her life or how her voice changed over the years.
“Anyway, the sound was coming from the other side of the mall and I remember mistaking her voice for a beautiful perfectly distorted electric guitar – some other-world thing floating there on this strange mournful ocean of strings and I was hooked for life.”
Oh – it’s also got a good cause thing going: proceeds from the album will benefit Inner-City Arts & DonorsChoose via PLUS1 for the Black Lives Fund.
M. Ward’s Think Of Spring is out now on digital download, CD, trad black and translucent orange vinyl via ANTI-; you can purchase your copy here, or from your local record emporium.