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David Ford
Songs For The Road
Original Signal Records
www.davidford.mu


"Oh please my darling forgive what I've done/I've found nothing just some big lonely world/so take me back please my lover/it took a train to discover/I cannot be without you girl." The chorus of "Train" from the latest record by the amazing David Ford states it all in one simple-complex phrase. Songs For The Road is filled with tunes that give a nod to the classic country songs of America while transcending borders with a rock and roll mysticism that is timeless and deeply engaging. Surpassing the youthful self-righteous anger of his debut record, Ford has put together a collection of songs that are filled with a human yearning, a feeling of universal longing to which it is easy to relate. While the songs on his first record were wildly dynamic, sometimes to the point of erraticism, this new record shows a bit more control and an inclination to put forth a more relaxed demeanor. The tracks are still more dynamic than most artists, but a bit restrained when compared to his last record. And while I Sincerely Apologize For all The Trouble I've Caused began with the ultra-dynamism and noisiness of tracks like "State Of The Union" and then calmed to the gentler moments like "Laughing Aloud", Songs For The Road begins with the calmer bits and slowly works into a low-key frenzy, all the while captivating the listener with its unique poetry.

Album opener "Go To Hell" is laced with strings and gentle rhythms that belie the bitterness of the sentiments expressed. The song sets the album up for some great breaking-up tunes, and Ford doesn't disappoint. There are songs aplenty that express the longing of separation and loss and lover bitterness. The 60's Motown/The Jam musical flavor of "Decimate" is a perfect setup for the bit of lyrical hope that the song contains, and it swells with an honest look at love. The album turns back down on the beautifully expressive "I'm Alright Now" with its quiet acoustics and slow strings, and the weirdly Billy Joel bounce of "Nobody Tells Me What To Do." The album hits sonic and lyrical gold when "St. Peter" launches - Ford poetically forgives the gatekeeper for not allowing him through the pearly gates while the song builds from a slight guitar anthem to a full-blown orchestral booming, finally hitting the stride that was found on the early tracks of I Sincerely Apologize… The aforementioned "Train" follows with its earnest dissertation on the meanings of freedom, building the lyrical emotion to a restrained fury before it all bursts loose in the super-dynamic and aurally noisy beautifulness of "Requiem," the point where the album finally attains the same catastrophically sonic glory that Ford introduced the world to on his debut. There is an intense relief in this song as all hell breaks loose musically, freeing the storyteller's heart to resolve itself in the closing track. "Song For The Road" is probably the greatest love song - for me - since Elton John's "Your Song" or Depeche Mode's "Somebody." The lyrics express things in a way that hits home very strongly to me, and the references and the way that the sentiments are expressed are simply beautiful and resonant within my heart, and I think it will be same for many folks, especially musicians. "So you can keep your belief in whatever/and I'll wear my cynicism like a tattoo/and while poets try to engineer definitions of love/you know that all I can think of is you."

With its dynamic reversal, maturing themes, and more focused sentiments, Songs For The Road is a worthy successor to I Sincerely Apologize For All The Trouble I've Caused. The record is a perfect example of the art of the album, as the songs string together a loose story that builds tension in the telling until it finally breaks loose and resolves into a peaceful, focused ending. This is the kind of album that Roger Waters could (and did) build in his heyday, one that begs to be listened to in its entirety, rather than pieced together on an MP3 player. The songs stand alone very well as singles, but have a much greater power when told as a series accompanied by their kin. So take an hour and sit and re-realize why you fell in love with music in the first place… bask in the beauty of Songs For The Road.

-Embo Blake

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