12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Alt Country Beauty,
This review is from: Transistor Radio (Audio CD)
M Ward is one of those rarities, an absolute genius at his genre, if you get chance to see him live, watch in awe as his fingers cover the whole fretboard at amazing speed producing beautiful fingerpicked alt. country music that has heart and soul and is just not a technical masterclass exhibition of guitar playing, while remaining about as modest and humble as one could ever possibly be. I chatted with him after his show in Birkenhead in 2003, he was charming.
Further listens may prove me wrong but i don't believe this album is quite in the same league as its two predecessors, Transfiguration of Vincent and End of Amnesia. It does grow however with listens.
The opener, You Still Believe In Me is a delicate acoustic finger picked instrumental cover of one of my favourite Beach Boys songs off Pet Sounds. One Life Away, starts the more country theme which tends to be followed throughout the album.
Whereas the previous two albums were definitely alt country, with the emphasis on Alt, not that that they were that alternative but they were definitely not country which often bands tagged with the genre alt country tend to sway towards,this one is definitely going in that direction.
There are less of his usual little spoken bits going on in the background in the middle of songs and his voice is just that little bit purer this time. It still has the slight gruff rasp of Tom Waits or Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) while remaining sweet by the Neil Young in him.
Stand out tracks, Sweethearts on Parade with its Grandaddy-esque drone guitar in the background. Hi Fi is the most singable. Parts of Big Boat recall a country version of Gomez's Whipping Picadilly and include female backing vocals which is a welcome addition to M Wards music. Pauls Song is also fab.
Here Comes the Sun Again, takes a line from the George Harrison track of almost same name and I'll be Yr Bird is lifted from the extra tracks off Ward's debut, Duet for Guitars vol2. A few instrumentals are also thrown in.
All in all a very enjoyable album following a similar format to previous releases but not quite as inventive.