David Ford – Charge (2013)
David Ford. What a great guy. Proud of never having made it into the mainstream, of not having to compromise his artistic vision, of never being a puppet of the music industry – and rightly so. This, his fourth solo album, is possibly the least commercial of the lot, an eclectic mix of southern blues (I’m talking USA, rather than Sussex), heartfelt, sincere ballads, tongue-in-cheek humour and honest, autobiographical lyrics. You open a vein on Ford’s arm and he bleeds these songs. They are him… that’s what makes him, and this album, so lovable and remarkable. The sentiments of a song such as ‘What’s Not To Love’, for example, would sound mawkish and trite in the hands of a lesser, more chart-friendly artist, but David pulls off one of the most beautiful love songs of the decade.
I’d heard some of these tracks before, in slightly less-polished form, both live and on the EP’s David has released over the last year or so. All are improved on the album, all are the finished product and sound bloody brilliant as a result. Even the songs I wasn’t quite sure about when I first heard them, such as the rocking Santana-flavoured blues of “The Ballad Of Miss Lily” and the love song to Ford’s favourite US city, “Philadelphia Boy” have been transformed into firm favourites. “The Ballad Of Miss Lily”, especially, has a guitar hook that got inside my mind and refused to leave for days. The stomping opener, “Pour A Little Poison” is already a live favourite of mine, as is the incredible finale of the album, “Every Time”, a truly magnificent six-minute epic which has a slight E-Street Band feel to the arrangement and which grows and builds to a delightfully profane sign-off, referencing both his autobiography and one of his signature compositions, “Song For The Road”.
I could go on and rave about other songs on the album. “Perfect Soul”, for example, is funny, toe-tapping, soulful and human and “Isn’t It Strange?” is a superbly told sad tale of a dysfunctional relationship, however every single track on this album is excellent. If you want me to recommend the “picks” of the album, just read the track listing. I can’t find fault, nor would I want to. It’s a absolute delight to listen to and gets better and better each time you play it. This may just be the most accomplished album of his exemplary solo career. Is it his best album? I can’t really say. I’d feel as if I was doing his other three excellent albums a disservice by saying that this one was better, but it’s certainly a strong contender. If there was any justice in this world, it’d be number one in several dozen countries and Ford would be the most sought after star for interviews, product endorsements and… actually, he’d probably hate it. So, maybe the fact that David has the life he wants, being a hard-working, honest, ignored-by-many, adored-by-the-knowing-few, completely respected, authentic musician really is justice. But, still – you really ought to buy this album. Just don’t shout too loud about how good it is, because people may just take notice.