What: M. Ward
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030
More info: bouldertheater.com
To say M. Ward is a busy man would be an understatement.
His seventh album, A Wasteland Companion, was released in April and it was his first solo record in three years. That would seem like a long time, but the emphasis there is on “solo.” During those years, he was busy with She & Him, his endlessly charming indie folk project with Zooey Deschanel.
Since Ward’s 2009 record, Hold Time, She & Him have released two LPs, Volume Two and A Very She & Him Christmas. On top of that, they were touring the U.S. and Europe and hitting major festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, South By Southwest and Sasquatch.
And while Deschanel had an ever-rising acting career on another burner, Ward was still working on his solo career. (His solo act is at the Boulder Theater on Saturday.) Being on the road worked out perfectly for him, because it fit the goal for his next album.
“It took a couple years to make. I had the idea of trying to combine my favorite aspects of a live record with my favorite aspects of a studio record,” Ward said. “So I decided to make the record while traveling, but instead of recording it on stage, recording it in different studios around the world.”
It might have taken years of travel, but some of the songs happened to come together quickly and easily. Looking back on the experience, Ward said a recording session for the A Wasteland Companion single — and arguably the standout track — stands out.
“The first one that comes to mind is a studio in Bristol, in the U.K., that John Parish works at, and we did ‘Primitive Girl’ there together,” Ward said. “The writing process can sometimes be as quick as 30 minutes, and that’s an example of a song that was written in about 30 minutes on the piano.”
A Wasteland Companion — actually written 90 percent on guitar, Ward said — is a collection of originals and covers exhibiting the excellent guitar work and vintage approach to songwriting. He’s covering the likes of Louis Armstrong (“I Get Ideas”), but it goes beyond that. You can hear influences from the days of Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly.
His live-meets-studio approach to the record hasn’t ended with the physical product, either. As he tours with the new songs, he lets the songs evolve.
“I’m trying to keep songs alive,” Ward said. “I don’t believe the live performance of a song needs to be exactly how it is on a record, but that’s the foundation of every live performance.”