It bothers me profusely to hear people automatically pigeonhole music into genres based on where the artist is from. I understand that certain styles of music are more prevalent in different areas on the map, but many critics could still stand to be a bit more careful to the geographical genre filling. Odds are, if you’ve ever even heard of British singer-songwriter David Ford before this piece, you’ve heard him being compared to recent hot-property import James Blunt. Blunt, whose pop-drenched falsetto of easily listen able singer-songwriter tunes about the beautiful one who got away, which garnered him so much attention on both sides of the pond before his arrival; are now having his bashed by critics on both sides, for being a little bit too accessible, and a little bit toopop. Whatever.
What bothers me more than anything is that Ford is a hugely more talented songwriter than Blunt; and to have his name become nearly synonymous with the “You’re Beautiful” pop-smith grossly misrepresents what is to be found on Ford’s debut solo record, I Sincerely Apologize For All The Trouble I’ve Caused. Unlike Blunt, Ford just carries himself as so much more a mature songwriter than Blunt ever tried to be. Look no further than the gorgeously heartbreaking balladry of album opener “I Don’t Care What You Call Me” for a songwriter at a very high level of talent, making phenomenal music.
“It’s so liberating to make a record when there’s no label involved,” Ford had to say on the recording process. “There’s no pressure to reach any commercial points, when there’s no producer, saying, ‘Well, if we edit that to three and a half minutes we could get it on the radio.’ There are no compromises on this record. Every second of every song is there entirely because I want it there.” From most, statements like that could come off as pretentious, self-indulgent, and a bit “too” freethinking. With some artists, with complete freedom things tend to occasionally turn out a bit ridiculous. Thirty minute songs of nothing, auditory tributes to Samuel Beckett; you get the point. Thank goodness that with Ford, these pitfalls are almost never the case.
Things peak, without a doubt, with the track “State Of The Union.” With lyrical poetry more poignant than plenty in the college textbooks, Ford has put together a track that is, alone, entirely worth buying the album just to hear. With everything building, until finally in the last verses, Ford is near-drowned in sound; singing his heart out in the midst of a whirlwind of instrumentation and passion swirling seemingly uncontrollable around him. “Get you coat, ’cause the righteous are leaving / ‘Cause they can’t work out what the hell to believe in / It’s a shame…” It is indisputable that Ford’s lyricisms are purely stunning. Things slow down a bit toward the middle; with the songs all still being quality, but tending to blend into one another a bit more than desired. Highlighted by introspective pieces like “Cheer Up,” and “Katie,” the middle of the record is more than worth listening to just to make it to the gorgeous throughout, near-nine minute album closer: “Laughing Aloud.” This is the epitome of a man just bearing his soul, flaws and all.
The songwriting reminds me of an amalgamation of Matthew Good’s dry wit, the sparse disposition of Damien Rice, the rambled philosophy of Conor Oberst, the pretentious (though unflinching) quality of Ryan Adams, and the seeming importance of Bob Dylan all dripping from every word. This is one of the best albums of the year, no matter where on the globe it comes from, or where on the map you are. If you miss Ford’s Apology, you surely need to make amends.
(Independiente / Columbia Records)