Our resident rich-toned singer-songwriter returns with More Rain, a layered, moody ode to staying indoors in a damp climate. With cameos from Neko Case, k.d. lang, and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, this ninth album from M. Ward opens with the sound of actual rainfall and includes a suitably sunshine-stripped Beach Boys cover. So July is clearly the perfect time for him to hit his hometown with two Revolution Hall shows (July 16–17).
There’s a kind of magic when the hush descends at Reed College’s tree-flanked amphitheater as an author takes the podium at Tin House’s Summer Workshop reading series (July 10–17), which this year hosts 21 writers. You may find yourself sharing a bench with Pulitzer-winning poet Gregory Pardlo or essayist Jo Ann Beard (homework: read her powerful personal essay “The Fourth State of Matter” at once) while you listen to National Book Award finalist Rachel Kushner or Guardian columnist Kiese Laymon.
In language that is intimate, vibrant, and richly colored, The Hidden Letters of Velta B—from Gina Ochsner—tells the story of the aurally gifted Maris, who is summoned at the end of his mother’s life to hear her tell the history of a Latvian town, its richly vocal inhabitants who speak even from beyond the grave, and his own family’s touchingly fabulist story. The Keizer-based writer reads at Powell’s City of Books on July 27.