Portland, Oregon-based singer/songwriter M. Ward (born Matthew Stephen Ward) grew up listening to gospel and country, two genres that figure prominently in his breezy, West Coast take on Americana. After a six-year stint with the folk-rock trio Rodriguez, Ward began sketching out songs deeply rooted in the classic traditions of American country-folk. Ward's first solo effort came in the form of Duet for Guitars #2, which was written and recorded while he was living between Chicago and various locales on the West Coast. Eventually, the album was placed in the hands of the ever enigmatic Giant Sand mastermind Howe Gelb, who released it on his own Ow Om Recordings in the fall of 2000. The record enjoyed favorable reviews and a considerable amount of attention in underground rock circles, and Ward supported it with a handful tours throughout the United States and Europe.