Folk singer/songwriter M. Ward shared a new video for “Violets for Your Furs,” one of the songs off his latest LP, Think of Spring. On the album, which debuted in December, M. Ward covers Billie Holiday’s legendary Lady in Satin (1958) in full.
The Holiday version is already substantially more relaxed than Frank Sinatra’s 1941 original, but Ward subdues it even more by trading the lush string arrangements for acoustic guitar. Rather than starting off with the refrain like Holiday did, M. Ward sets a dreamy atmosphere with his signature guitar work and waits to come in until the next verse, “The snow drifted down and the flowers/And that is where it lay.” His vocals are understandably less powerful than the old performers as well, but he uses that to his advantage by dressing them up with an echoing reverb.
TV static and superimposed snow falls onto M. Ward as he lays in bed in the video, shot in black and white. Shortly, a ghostly version of himself stands up out of his body and walks down the hall, surrealistically stepping between indoor and outdoor settings until he reaches the living room and begins to play guitar, shot in color. While that version of himself plays guitar, the other sings. It was directed by Holly Andres.
Ward explained his decision to cover Holiday’s album, “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.”
Think of Spring was M. Ward’s second album of 2020. While “Violets for Your Furs” includes a line about bringing April to December, Migration Stories arrived in April with a snowy album cover. They were his 11th and 12th albums since his debut Duet for Guitars #2 in 1999.