M. Ward’s latest album, Think of Spring is a tribute to the late Billie Holiday, filled with loosely reworked covers from her 1958 album, Lady in Satin. By reimagining Holiday’s work, Ward produces an affectionate yet concise album with the sole use of an acoustic guitar and minimalist production.
With Holiday being a muse to the indie-folk and blues singer, Ward doesn’t create a literal translation of her songs but instead assembles an album that highlights his original style. Ward’s gentle reverb that is intricately laced throughout the album allows for a comforting yet renewed rendition.
Ward tackles a large challenge in the industry with this album regarding music covers. Whether it be a replica rendition in respect to the original style, or a fresh deconstruction of the familiar sounds, it remains a difficult task. when Lady in Satin was recorded it was accompanied by a 40-piece orchestra, Think of Spring does the opposite, reducing the songs to only two instruments: Ward’s soothing vocals and an acoustic guitar. The grandeur of Holiday’s songs is lost as a result and what’s left is Ward presenting her songs intimately and unvarnished through new guitar tunings and alternative chord progressions
Think of Spring emphasizes sincerity and starkness when covering, arguably, Billie Holiday’s greatest album. The rawness Ward depicts with this project highlights a different and much-needed perspective that many others would struggle to accomplish.
By beginning with the adored ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’, Ward guides the tone of the album and what to truly expect from it. Ward’s calming vocals shine throughout the song, extending the track a minute longer than that of Holiday’s, ensuring the playful, melodic feel while still keeping its heart-break essence.
The record essentially wanders off in its own unique direction while maintaining the delicate balance of the original material. ‘But Beautiful’ highlights Ward’s sombre and intricate guitar work, while ‘I’m a Fool To Want You,’ is played in a dreamy and feel-good manner that’s sincere and pleasant to the ears.
Finally, ending with ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is,’ concludes the sombre record with Ward taking on a deeper tone, sustaining the stripped-back atmosphere the album tackles.
Think of Spring takes the memory of Billie Holiday songs and spins them into something much more natural. And to pay it off, Ward’s reworking of Lady in Satin amounts to a hypnotizing listen. With Ward’s mesmerizing renditions, Think of Spring, pays homage to the original records without being overbearing.