Monday, July 17, 2006

"The New Damien Rice"

NPR's Song of the Day (as usual, audio is available for streaming from the article): Out of Nowhere, a Bold Statement by Rita Houston
  • Song: "State of the Union"
  • Artist: David Ford
  • CD: I Sincerely Apologise for All the Trouble I've Caused
  • Genre: Pop-Rock

It's hard not to describe up-and-coming British singer-songwriter David Ford as "The New Damien Rice": From his expressive vocal style to his deliberate sense of pacing, Ford brushes past a lot of Rice's signifiers on his debut CD. They even share a creative way with the F-bomb, but it's not that simple. Ford's influences clearly reach beyond Rice to a long line of honest, outspoken songwriters: Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Cat Power, Jackson Browne, Kurt Cobain, and on and on.

"State of the Union" finds Ford at his crankiest and most distinct, as he crafts a bitter, paranoid screed -- "With friends like these, well, who needs politicians?" -- that still mixes the personal and political while still sounding strangely lovely. There's something compelling about a new artist who shows up with nothing to lose: singing for his life and carving out an identity while using the platform he's been given to say the things he's always wanted to say.

Many singer-songwriters come and go in a hurry, but for those who manage to come back and stick, it's got to be hard to maintain that level of intensity and vulnerability day after day -- having to create and re-create a raw, personal moment as if it were new, time and time again. It's hard not to worry about David Ford, and that's a high compliment.

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