CD: M Ward, Transistor Radio

(Matador)

Anyone who has ever tuned a radio dial and discovered a melody crackling through interference will recognise the special appeal of Transistor Radio. The Portland, Oregon-based M Ward describes these songs as "childhood memories of utopian radio power", and they sound as if they're beaming in from beyond space and time: desolate, eerie, and magical.

Ward's growing fan club includes Vic Chesnutt and Howe Gelb (both appearing here) and it's easy to see why. He has a childlike wonderment rarely glimpsed among industry-dominated modern music, but he plays this off against a frail world-weariness. His tools include plucked guitars, distant echoes and found sounds; he revels in the mundane, and can spin a song from something as simple as a waitress's frown. There are tracks here - like the stunningly plaintive Hifi V2 or ghostly One Life Away - that could be pitched against a Dylan or Guthrie without embarrassment. Transistor Radio's rockier road-movie songs hint that he has other tricks up his sleeve, but the fragile, bittersweet ballads suggest a huge talent deserving wider broadcast.

Contributor

Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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