Singer/songwriter Dave Ford’s new CD “Anthology” recalls unpretentious rock & roll of Tom Petty
The cream doesn’t always rise to the top. The easier access that musicians have in producing and releasing their own records has saturated the market with countless garbage – amateur-hour replications of major-label hit-makers, cookie-cutter indie rock, well-meaning but unpolished talent – with the most edible sprouts sometimes lost in the shuffle. Such is the case with Kansas City-based singer/songwriter Dave Ford (http://www.davefordproject.com), whose new album Anthology is consistently melodic and emotionally moving mainstream American rock. But Dave who? Exactly.
Free from the self-conscious cleverness and pointed irony of so many of today’s hipster roots-rock acts, Ford’s straightforward artistry is directly in line with the work of Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, and the Eagles. In other words, Ford belongs in that category between classic rock and country. However, Ford isn’t afraid to tinker with the formula. “In the Night” and “Stranded” reveal Ford’s infatuation with jazz, the latter featuring sterling saxophone work from Phil Brenner.
According to Ford, the diversity in his material is due to what he feels are limitations in his voice. “I have a low voice,” Ford said. “Most of the rock & roll stuff that I like to play starting out always seemed to go too high for me to sing. Like the Eagles, the vocals go too high for my range. Very frustrating. Most rock & roll is that way. So I would always need to change the key to accommodate my voice. I really don’t like doing that because I think most songs sound best when performed in the key they are written in.” While Ford may not be Freddie Mercury, the friendly warmth of his voice gives his poignant narratives a bittersweet pull on “Let Me Be Me” and “The Beach.”
Although Ford’s songs are definitely roots-flavored, country surprisingly wasn’t part of his musical awakening. “Country would have been great for my voice, but I grew up in a family that didn’t listen to country,” Ford explained. “I knew nothing about country. So the only choice I had was to write my own.” And it’s that do-it-yourself attitude that solidifies the heady individual vision of Anthology. Ford eschews collegiate trends and stylistic boundaries for a collection of unpretentious, no-flash rock & roll, serving up enough guitar-rock sizzle (listen to “One More Day”) and Midwest jangle to remind folks of simpler times.