M. Ward's Transfiguration of Vincent is nothing less than spectacular. From the buoyant, late-Beatlesque "Vincent O'Brien" to the dank, shuffling, south of the border groove on "Sad, Sad Song," the troubadour manages to capture a timeless folkiness and match it with a surreal and sparkling sense of nostalgia that clearly echoes Tom Waits. Recorded with the Old Joe Clarks as the backup band, Transfiguration is rooted firmly in old-time Americana, yet M. Ward's take on country and particularly his vocals somehow fit perfectly with Giant Sand, Sparklehorse, and California's surreal, pastoral psych-pop outfit Grandaddy (whose Jason Lytle contributed some field recordings). Just check M. Ward's stunning transformation of Bowie's "Let's Dance," which proves there's some deeply buried pop beneath these honest folk tunes. Transfiguration is a quiet record and might lose some listeners in it's sleepy summer melancholy, but M. Ward is the real deal -- and he's surely worthy of heaps of attention and acclaim.