M. Ward’s “immaculately arranged Americana is still as comforting as an old cardigan,” said Michael Endelman in Rolling Stone. Not much has changed since the Portland-based troubadour released 2006’s revered Post-War. With his same easy-breezy charm, Ward churns out more of that gauzy, sweet-sounding folk on Hold Time.
Though the album offers more of the same, said Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly, the songs feel almost “timeless.” Hold Time rambles along like “a musical wanderer’s dusty, train-hopping tour through folk, blues, and country.” Opener “New Beginners” saunters along with travel-worn ease. A cover of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,” which reunites Ward with Zooey Deschanel, the other half of his side project She & Him, sways back to yesteryear.
While each song plays like a lovely piece of nostalgia, the album, as a whole, fails to provide its own lasting memory, said Austin Ray in Paste. Too many songs, like “Blake’s View,” cover musical territory Ward has “thoroughly mined.” If only he would’ve let go of the past just a little, Hold Time could have been more than a “few uninspired moments.”