"You quickly learn there's a perfectly imperfect balance of cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals in the zoo," Ward said in a statement announcing the album. "This record visits the most memorable characters. There's a lot of very inspirational people I've had the pleasure to work with but there are also a few I wish I'd never met."
Ward has collaborated with a variety of people in the last 10 years. He prominently worked with Zooey Deschanel in their duo She & Him. Their 2016 album, Christmas Party, was Ward's most recent album. He's also a member of the supergroup Monsters of Folk along with My Morning Jacket's Jim James. Separately, he was lead producer for Mavis Staples' Livin' on a High Note.
It's not clear how he feels about each of his individual collaborators. In his words, "All names have been changed to protect the innocent."
This is Ward's eighth solo album, following the 2016 More Rain. The unexpected release coincided with the start of his North American tour.
"This album is a reminder to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and don't let the ones that just need an extra couple hours of therapy bring you down."