Annie Ford Band
Annie Ford Band
4 stars (out of 5)
By Donald Teplyske
Based in Seattle, the Annie Ford Band skilfully performs the two unabashed sides of country music, forlorn and lonely. Beautiful stuff.
Sans guile, and reminiscent of Neko Case’s The Virginian, Annie Ford Band is a surprisingly delightful little album; while these ears had not heard the group’s music prior to receiving this debut recording, its eleven cuts immediately convey pleasurable familiarity. Weary shuffles fleshed out with despondent recollections, forgotten promises, and lamentable decisions are the foundation of the songs written by Ford and drummer Matt Manges.
Olie Elshleman’s pedal steel most plainly provides the album with atmospheric color, but so does Ford’s keen vocal approach, where strength and detachment mask vulnerability. Vocally, she favorably reminds one of Zoe Muth and Audrey Auld, powerful talents in their own right.
Ford’s country music spectrum is broad, containing elements evident of her small-town Virginia roots, along with a feel for the blues and an awareness of populist charisma honed by years of busking. As an outstanding album must, Annie Ford Band has multiple sounds, outlooks, and emotional textures. “Frankie” swings, “My Brother” sways, and “Two Sides”—with a bit of banjo brightening the gloom just a smidgen—seethes.
Two Ford compositions—”Calloused Hands” and “Dirty Hearts and Broken Dishes”—easily stand with any of the finest songs heard recently, rambling memories captured in the dust and clutter of broken rooms and abandoned lives. Sung by Ford, Manges’ “Lovesick” is more upbeat, its rhythm providing contrast to the surrounding songs. Rich bass notes (presumably from Ivan Molton) and “Wicked Games”-ish guitar flourishes (Tim Sargent, perhaps; I’m working without credit notes) lend distinction to “Buick 1996.”
The album closes with “Gotta Kill A Rooster,” a wee bit that avoids novelty only by the slimmest of axe edges, and one wonders if Ford and her cohorts are familiar with the Knitters. They pull it off, in no small part because of Ford’s mid-European influenced fiddle interlude capping the album.
There will be scores of captivating Americana albums released in 2014: Annie Ford Band is the first.