Few can pull off timelessness as effectively as M. Ward. Whether he’s churning out songs alongside Zooey Deschanel in She & Him or working among his folk-rock brethren as part of Monsters of Folk, Ward tends to lurk in the shadows, delivering dusty ruminations and thoughtful guitar plucks that nod to simpler times. On A Wasteland Companion, we get a nice melding of Ward’s collaboration-hungry side (“Primitive Girl” features a guest vocal from Susan Sanchez, and Deschanel shows up on “Sweetheart”), as well as a heavy helping of solo work. Not surprisingly, though, it’s solo where Ward shines. “Crawl After You” is a piano-and-electric-guitar masterpiece that moves from elegy to psychedelic rock out, while “Clean Slate” showcases Ward in all his crackled, country-folk glory. For a songwriter so meticulous about the details, it’s best Ward step out of the shadows more often, and A Wasteland Companion is a great reminder why.