15 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“Transfiguration #1”, Transfiguration of Vincent’s hushed instrumental opening track, begins with the quiet buzz of cicadas and a few tentatively plucked notes from M. Ward’s acoustic guitar; after a few moments Ward embarks on some Fahey-ish finger picking and The Old Joe Clarks (his backing band ) slide into a rustic shuffle with delicate southwestern flourishes. Yet for all its beauty, “Transfiguration #1” is something of a red herring; its carefully fabricated traditionalism prepares listeners for an excursion into Americana that never materializes. Instead, M. Ward performs a clever trick, presenting his listeners with an album of romantic, power-pop derived balladry clothed in the worn but comforting garments of American folk and blues. Transfiguration’s crackly, lo-fi aesthetic and Ward’s dust bowl crooning invoke Woody Guthrie and Son House, but his starry eyed melancholia is more akin to indie pop stars like Elliott Smith and Stephin Merritt. On the keening, “Sad, Sad Song” he deftly splices a loping rockabilly groove to a set of wittily irreverent faux-blues verses. With Transfiguration of Vincent, M. Ward fashioned a sly blend of high lonesome blues and postmodern irony that always feels immediate and original, never labored or contrived.

EDITORS’ NOTES

“Transfiguration #1”, Transfiguration of Vincent’s hushed instrumental opening track, begins with the quiet buzz of cicadas and a few tentatively plucked notes from M. Ward’s acoustic guitar; after a few moments Ward embarks on some Fahey-ish finger picking and The Old Joe Clarks (his backing band ) slide into a rustic shuffle with delicate southwestern flourishes. Yet for all its beauty, “Transfiguration #1” is something of a red herring; its carefully fabricated traditionalism prepares listeners for an excursion into Americana that never materializes. Instead, M. Ward performs a clever trick, presenting his listeners with an album of romantic, power-pop derived balladry clothed in the worn but comforting garments of American folk and blues. Transfiguration’s crackly, lo-fi aesthetic and Ward’s dust bowl crooning invoke Woody Guthrie and Son House, but his starry eyed melancholia is more akin to indie pop stars like Elliott Smith and Stephin Merritt. On the keening, “Sad, Sad Song” he deftly splices a loping rockabilly groove to a set of wittily irreverent faux-blues verses. With Transfiguration of Vincent, M. Ward fashioned a sly blend of high lonesome blues and postmodern irony that always feels immediate and original, never labored or contrived.

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