I wish that a hefty amount of the young-guy-with-guitar-as-Messiah praise being slobbered all over Conor Oberst were redirected at his friend M. Ward, a superior singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer. Maybe he's just not as good in bed. "Fuel for Fire," from the beautiful new record "Transistor Radio," is Ward's best yet. The song's many ritards and pauses give Ward plenty of time to show off that vintage luxury fiber voice of his, twisting and turning and pirouetting around the melody with the relaxed, tightrope-walking ease of Roy Orbison. As impressive as the vocal performance is, the economical and deeply evocative production and arrangement, also by Ward, is even better. Midway through, the acoustic guitar is joined by a piano that is tired, teary-eyed, maybe a little bit drunk. Moments later comes a sample of Pablo Casals' cello, which ends the track with all the faded emotional opulence of Guy Maddin's "The Saddest Music in the World." Many thanks to Merge Records for allowing me to post an exclusive download of this song, the perfect song to launch Audiofile. Grab it soon; it will be available for exactly one month.