Singer/songwriter Dave Ford spices Tom Petty influence with jazzy touches on new CD
(Published: March 21, 2011)

(Kansas City, KS) Written Robert Sutton. Singer/songwriter Dave Ford is even better than the real thing.

On Anthology, Ford channels Tom Petty’s solid-steel formula of jangling guitars and hummable melodies but outdoes his hero with his vocals. To be frank, Petty’s Achilles’ heel has always been his nasal whine; Ford, on the other hand, sings in a low register that is soothing to the ears. In fact, Ford’s voice is so comforting that it turns some of his tunes into sedative lullabies, such as the gorgeously moody “Let Me Be Me.”

Like Petty, Ford’s music sounds like heartland America, propelled folksy acoustic and electric guitars and classic country narratives. Besides his crystalline vocals, the main difference is the instrumentation that Ford adds to his compositions. For example, Phil Brenner’s saxophone heightens the tension in “Stranded” in almost the same way that Raphael Ravenscroft’s solo in the late Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” took that song to new heights.

In other words, the jazz flavors that Ford imbues a few of his tunes with give them extra punch. “In the Night” actually veers into bossa nova territory, and James “Chico” Battaglia’s tumbling congas injects the beat with added heft. Such unpredictability – the opening cut, “Essence of You,” even recalls ‘80s pop with its pulsating keyboards – makes the CD a true anthology as Ford unreels one different story after another.

But Ford’s own story was that of a kid attending a rock concert for the first time, an event that guided his future in life. “My first concert was ZZ Top and Blue Oyster Cult,” Ford recalled. “A few minutes into the concert I thought, ‘This is fantastic and incredible,’ and I was hooked on being a musician. I love the band America; they made a huge impact on me. I can remember sitting down with their first self-titled album, going over and over the songs with my guitar, trying to learn them. Going to concerts really inspired me.”