David Ford: Change – album review
CD / Vinyl (with CD) / Download
Released March 18th 2013
Charge is David Ford’s fourth solo studio album. Since leaving Easyworld in 2004, he’s remained defiantly under the mainstream radar, causing a stir with his debut single State Of The Union and its homemade video of a solo performance of the song in his home basement and having his potential breakthrough second album Songs For The Road lost commercially as label Independiente struggled to pay the bills. Accepting his lot, he went back to self-funding, self-promoting for this third album Let The Hard Times Roll and a series of EPs over the past couple of years, continuing to play live and astound his dedicated fanbase.
The album reflects those struggles he’s faced as an artist, documenting a disastrous solo tour of the southern US on Pour A Little Poison, describing himself as a “whiny little English boy singing the blues” and “staring at the walls of the Motel 6” over a mouth organ led stomp that you can’t help but tap your feet too. There’s also Philadelphia Boy about the way a crowd in Philadelphia took him to their hearts when he almost broke down on stage during another tour and his subsequent love for the city.
Most potent is however album closer Every Time, six minutes of musing over missed opportunities, getting shafted by the business and waking up to the realization he’s making music that he loves and that’s what’s important to him. It’s Ford’s career summed up in one massive explosion of self-exploration. One criticism occasionally and unfairly thrown at David is that he doesn’t transfer the power and passion of his live shows to record – there can be no such accusations here.
Unlike Ford’s previous albums, there are huge variations in pace and mood as the album progresses. The Ballad Of Miss Lily is a balls-out stomp about a man falling in love with one of those girls who just want a guy for his money and Let It Burn has a storming funk beat right through the middle of it with guitar licks dropping in and out in the chorus. And sandwiched between the two is Isn’t It Strange, one of those tender tear-jerking ballads that Ford produces with impressive regularity. Moving On is another of those, talking of “a mind to let all fortune’s chips fall where they may”.
What’s Not To Love is a simple love song played out on piano with the simple chorus refrain “if you asked me why do I love her, then tell me what’s not to love”. It’s followed by the highlight of the album Perfect Soul, another love song but from the angle of a man pleading his case to a woman – “if you’re craving romance, then I’ll show up bearing flowers” but with the proviso “don’t go pinning all your hopes on me, I can make you a pretty promise, but that’s no guarantee”. It’s got some beautiful brass scattered over the chorus and some unusual key changes, but it all fits together perfectly.
Charge may just be Ford’s best album to date. It doesn’t fit as seamlessly together as the previous ones, but whilst that might be seen as an issue, it’s actually its strength. Ford has never been an artist to play by the traditional rules and with this album he’s not bound by any pressure to sell tens of thousands of copies so it’s free of any outside constraints or expectations.
Charge is out now.
Charge is released on March 18th on vinyl, cd and download and is available from David’s official shop.
David plays the following shows in the next few months :
March 20 Southampton Cellars
March 21 Bristol Tunnels
March 22 Oxford O2 Academy 2
March 23 Holmfirth Picturedrome
March 24 Manchester The Deaf Institute
March 27 Edinburgh Electric Circus
March 28 Newcastle Cluny
March 29 York Fibbers
March 30 Norwich Arts Centre
March 31 Cambridge Portland Arms
April 3 London Scala
April 4 Birmingham Hare and Hounds
April 5 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
April 6 Ratoath The Venue
April 7 Belfast Empire Music Hall Belfast
June 1 Windsor University, Essex Hall Theatre
June 6 Cambridge Club Passim, MA
June 7 Northampton Iron Horse Music Hall, MA
June 9 Piermont Turning Point Café, NY
June 11 New York Rockwood Music Hall, NY
June 12 New York Rockwood Music Hall, NY
June 13 Asbury Park The Saint, NJ
June 14 Philadelphia World Cafe Live, PA
June 16 Arlington IOTA Club and Café, VA
June 19 San Francisco Hotel Utah San Francisco, CA
June 26 Los Angeles Bootleg Bar, CA
All words by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here