6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Bewitching and varied Americana from Howe Gelb’s protege…..,
This review is from: Transfiguration Of Vincent (Audio CD)
M. Ward is certainly a talented guy, this was evident from 2001’s incredible opus “End of Amnesia” where he provided some deft guitar mastery, razored honey vocals and lest we forget some absolutely fantastic songs. Fortunately that was not the end to it all as is evident from this quite splendid album that can loosely be termed Americana. I say loosely because Ward delves into a number of styles across the piece, sometimes venturing into instrumental “Paris, Texas” (Ry Cooder) fields before rolling back into blues, folk, country and back again.
The melodies within the album maintain the same dreamy stature of his previous efforts whilst still moving forward to encompass slightly more upbeat moods and tempos. Ward’s vocal style can be found somewhere between Tom Waits and Tim Buckley – maintaining the gruffness of the former whilst still being capable of slipping into falsetto with the same skill as the latter. It can take some getting used to but then so do many of the greats.
Following the gentle acoustic instrumental of “Transfiguration #1” is “Vincent O’Brien”, a song which veers dangerously close to rock territory with its Jerry Lee Lewis piano playing and bombastic chorus. From there though Ward takes us into more familiar territory with the bluesy “Sad, Sad Song” and “Poor Boy, Minor Key” where he is assisted by Howe Gelb of Giant Sand. It is interesting that Gelb chooses to assist Ward as they seem to be heading in the same musical direction in their separate projects – simple narratives, stellar guitar-work and a variation in styles that never allows the listener to get bored.
To list all of the songs and their relative merits would take too much space but needless to say the album rarely fumbles, it is consistently great all the way through with a possible highlight being the most bizarre cover of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” you are ever likely to hear. Ward is an excellent talent and though I would probably advice that “End of Amnesia” is a better place to start than this, there is little doubt that he has repeated the trick with this one. A superb effort and well worth a purchase.