Album: M Ward

Transistor Radio, MATADOR
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The Independent Culture

Matt Ward's The Transfiguration of Vincent was one of the sleeper successes of 2003, gradually acquiring its due acclaim and gently elevating the Oregon guitarist to cult status. This follow-up is even better, broadening Ward's approach to include a few more unusual covers alongside his own material, and employing guests such as Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and My Morning Jacket's Jim James to add extra depth to Ward's mesmerising, John Fahey-style guitar arrangements. A solo instrumental version of Brian Wilson's "You Still Believe In Me" opens proceedings, beautifully rendered in gentle acoustic guitar picking, before the mild folk-blues harmonies of "One Life Away" usher in the Forties vintage mood which dominates the album. Louis Armstrong's "Sweethearts On Parade" is treated to a bizarre but not unpleasant undertow of industrial noise and fuzz guitar, whilepounding piano carries the cheeky metaphor of "Big Boat". Additional instrumental details distinguish other tracks

Matt Ward's The Transfiguration of Vincent was one of the sleeper successes of 2003, gradually acquiring its due acclaim and gently elevating the Oregon guitarist to cult status. This follow-up is even better, broadening Ward's approach to include a few more unusual covers alongside his own material, and employing guests such as Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and My Morning Jacket's Jim James to add extra depth to Ward's mesmerising, John Fahey-style guitar arrangements. A solo instrumental version of Brian Wilson's "You Still Believe In Me" opens proceedings, beautifully rendered in gentle acoustic guitar picking, before the mild folk-blues harmonies of "One Life Away" usher in the Forties vintage mood which dominates the album. Louis Armstrong's "Sweethearts On Parade" is treated to a bizarre but not unpleasant undertow of industrial noise and fuzz guitar, whilepounding piano carries the cheeky metaphor of "Big Boat". Additional instrumental details distinguish other tracks - pedal steel on "Paul's Song", washboard on "Oh Take Me Back", and whistling on "Lullaby & Exile". But the star is clearly Ward's delicate and dazzling guitar - the perfect complement to his dry vocal manner - wielded with enough care and precision to close the album with a faultless section from The Well-Tempered Clavier.

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