M. Wardâ€šÃ„Ã´s Transistor Radio is an addition to his repertoire of well-written folk songs that evoke a time and place to which the artist himself has no connection. It is also a dedication to that time and place. Ward expresses his dismay over corporate ownership of modern radio stations while quietly dedicating this album to what few independent radio stations remain and those of days gone by. â€šÃ„ÃºOne Life Awayâ€šÃ„Ã¹ in particular would have had a well-deserved home there, recorded to sound as if it is coming through an old staticky radio.His themes have not changed since such as â€šÃ„ÃºIâ€šÃ„Ã´ll Be Yr Bird,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Ward vows devotion in a charmingly simplistic style the listener his last album; the lyrics mostly regard finding, losing, or wishing for love. On songs can only equate with honesty and sincerity, if not an earnest, youthful naâˆšÃ˜vetâˆšÂ©.
The songs are most captivating when written with a bouncing tempo and haunting melody. Wardâ€šÃ„Ã´s tempered voice has a natural dark mystery that lends itself to these songs. On â€šÃ„ÃºFour Hours in Washingtonâ€šÃ„Ã¹ rolling drums underscore the tension of a sleepless night as Ward begs for dreams or nightmares as the hours pass.
The surprises of the album are its bookending covers, written hundreds of years apart. Radio opens with a version of â€šÃ„ÃºYou Still Believe In Meâ€šÃ„Ã¹ from the Beach Boyâ€šÃ„Ã´s pivotal album Pet Sounds. Ward plays it as a simple lesson in acoustic guitar. The album ends with a much more unlikely coverâ€šÃ„Ã®Bachâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºWell-Tempered Clavier.â€šÃ„Ã¹ The track doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t actually feature a clavier, but is again played in the modest and humble style the listener has come to expect.