M. Wardâ€™s Invitation for an Evening
Thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s a lot riding on M. Wardâ€šÃ„Ã´s latest release Transfiguration of Vincent. His record company is betting itâ€šÃ„Ã´ll be his breakout thanks to the steadily swelling crowds of kids standing mesmerized at his shows before bumrushing the merch stand. And with good reason.M. Ward uniquely blends country and folk-rock to create an overall sound consistent with a night spent in the country chasing lightening bugs, listening to cricketsâ€šÃ„Ã®actually present on the albumâ€šÃ„Ã®and dozing in a hammock. Vibrantly energetic, the album is not. It exists more to set a mood, seeking to draw the listener into its languid world of acoustic guitar, keyboard, light percussion, and banjo. Laid lightly over the bare instruments is Wardâ€šÃ„Ã´s weathered, raspy voice that suggests wisdom beyond his years.
On the finest, and most folky, track of the album, â€šÃ„ÃºSad, Sad Song,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Wardâ€šÃ„Ã´s voice is haunting as a man searching for a way to get his true love back. The repetitive lyrical structure finds him asking advice from a doctor, whippoorwill, killer whale, and finally his mama. The advice is always to make a sad, sad song. Ward follows the track with â€šÃ„ÃºUndertaker,â€šÃ„Ã¹ in which he asks a gravedigger to put him in a coffin and â€šÃ„Ãºthrow [him] over the Bayside bridgeâ€šÃ„Ã¹ if his lover leaves him.
The album concludes in a surprising cover of David Bowieâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºLetâ€šÃ„Ã´s Dance.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Totally reworked, Ward invokes romanticism to turn the dance-pop hit of the â€šÃ„Ã²80s into a simple guitar-and-vocal love song. While there are more up-tempo tracks, such as â€šÃ„ÃºHelicopterâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºGet to the Table on Time,â€šÃ„Ã¹ the album is characterized and made memorable by these songs of sweet sadness and nostalgia.