CD: M Ward: Transfiguration of Vincent

(Matador)

· More pop CD reviews

In the past couple of years, there has been the distinct sense that the genre of Americana is reaching critical mass. Barely a week goes by without the arrival of another pile of wan albums by alt-country bands and lo-fi singer-songwriters beavering away in rough approximation of Will Oldham. It would be easy for the third album by Portland singer-songwriter M Ward to be lost amid the deluge, but that would be a shame.

Blessed with a heartbreaking falsetto and a witty turn of phrase, his intimate and endearing songs switch from melancholy introspection to surprisingly jaunty humour. Helicopter turns the plot of a Die Hard-style action movie into a chugging acoustic rockabilly number, while his acoustic cover of David Bowie's Let's Dance is an untrammelled joy, digging deep behind the original's bombast and glossy veneer to uncover a moving entreaty to an unrequited love.

Contributor

Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

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