Sunday, July 04, 2004

The Transfiguration of Vincent 

This was one of the albums I got for my birthday, the most recent from M Ward. Having heard a few tracks of his on various Uncut Free CDs, I had him passed off as nice-but-dull alt.country, worth listening to but only as one or two tracks on a mix tape. But he's much better than that, and I recommend this CD highly (as I do most things I blog about, I know - really, there's a lot of stuff out there for which I have nothing but contempt, but I don't think it's worth bringing it online).

One of the highlights of the album is his cover of Bowie's 'Let's Dance', one of my least favourite Bowie songs. His version is a slowed-down acoustic number, bringing out the soul in the song (which I'm not sure was there at all before). Reminded me of Cat Power's cover of '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction', which removes the chorus entirely, goes slow and acoustic, and comes close to cryingly beautiful at the lyrics 'baby, baby, baby come back - can't you see I'm on a losing streak?'

There are a few instrumental tracks on the album, which are nice jazzy bits of guitar, forming breaks between Ward's voice, which is great in its own way, but something you could otherwise get too much off - sort of a permanent husky Tom Waits falsetto. His own songs are great, with 'Sad Song' nearly a blues number, and 'Helicopter' reaching rockabilly, but with each songs also maintaining something that's distinctive to Ward, and that distinction adds the extra layer the album needs. Really excellent.

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