David Ford - Songs For the Road
Record Label: Original Signal Recordings
Release Date: April 1, 2008
British songwriter David Ford was presented with the precarious task of trying to make a sophomore album worthy of the same praise bestowed on his critically acclaimed debut I Sincerely Apologize for All the Trouble I Caused. While one can certainly credit Ford for trying, the results are quite muddled. On paper, Ford’s Songs For the Road is richer and deeper with a cavalcade of strings, layered keys and swirling textures, but the songs as a whole don’t carry the same wallop as on his debut.
First single “Go To Hell,” is effective and crisp and borrows much of the kiss-off sentiment as his debut single “I Don’t Care What You Call Me.” “I’m Alright Now” and “Decimate,” are also engaging, but as nine, fluent songs, the disc has a bit of discord. There isn’t the same magnetism that appeared on his debut. Equal parts Damien Rice, Ray LaMontagne and Griffin House, Ford is a captivating vocalist, insightful lyricist and an absolute charmer. But those traits can only get you so far. Songs like “St. Peter” and “Train” flop and in a disc of only nine songs, there need to be no holes. Much like his last album, he includes another political rant and it’s easily one of the album’s high points. When it comes to writing lyrics, whether its romance, faith or politics, Ford seems to say things in an alarming and captivating fashion that always turn some heads. It is his lyrics that carry this release, but words alone cannot carry this release.
Much like his debut, Songs For the Road is a brief 37-minutes, which makes even the weakest songs bearable. If anything is to come of this release, it's Ford's inherent ability to bottle up the rage, desperation and catharsis involved in a broken romance that rivals many of his contemporaries. It takes a certain bit of skill to successfully wax rhapsodic about romance and politics and not sound trite, boring or unoriginal. In the end, there’s nothing terrible about the disc at all, but holding it up against his debut, it just falls short. Perhaps this is the so-called 'sophomore slump,' and if it is, it’s not a bad sophomore slump at all.