REVIEW: Chris Ford and his SuBourbon Blues Project — Whiskey Still (SINGLE)
Some music listeners are entirely too smart and cool to hear anything of value in blues. It’s too predictable, they say, too limited, and even worse, played out. Chris Ford and his SuBourbon Blues Project, however, understand the music’s enduring appeal and how to make it stand out for modern audiences. There’s timeless allure present in this form of music because, in its ideal presentation, it strips a performer bare of artifice and presents them unadorned, fully themselves for audiences, and defiant in the face of life’s travails.
“Whiskey Still” roars with fatalistic attitude. Ford’s “speaker” finds his redemption from rotgut high octane homemade whiskey, high proof and high risk, and doesn’t ask for the listener’s pity. The harmonica tacked onto the track doesn’t ever come across as a cliché; it bobs in and out of the arrangement at all the right times and has a rugged growl that makes the song even better. It may not seem like much, but during it a song such as this, it’s like another singer with an intermittent presence.
The guitar is an equally fiery presence and, of course, much more of a factor. The stripped down rhythm guitar structuring the verses contrasts with the song’s lead guitar touches the right note for “Whiskey Still”. There’s an almost theatrical quality to the song that a lot of similar cuts do not share. Much of that, without question, is because of the emphatic stomp that leaves its mark on listeners. “Whiskey Still” never really lets off the gas pedal with listeners, but you never really want it to relent.
The drumming cuts through the mix. It never feels like it’s too much, however, but accentuates the song’s emphatic tone. There’s a physicality about the guitar playing. You can hear the raw physicality with the strings, crashing into them with sharp downstrokes, and sparing no one. It’s an economical track, there’s no wasted motion, and the rolling authority of the song carries you away.
Some might say the lyrics rely too much on cliché. Others will disagree. Ford places his 1st person point of view in the middle of a “blues world” but frames it with a personal flair all his own. It never sounds like a pure pastiche. Listeners familiar with blues music, however, will like how well-versed he is with the genre. There’s no missteps in that area.
It doesn’t run on too long either. Ford has a clear dedication to not wasting listener’s time, getting to the point, and avoid any overheated self-indulgence some may think is a blues staple. The rock strands in this song are real, but it owes much more to the blues. It’s a song that you’ll enjoy on first listen and then keep coming back to over time without exhausting its appeal. Chris Ford’s SuBourbon Blues Project will keep delivering the goods for years to come without ever compromising themselves. “Whiskey Still” is your notice that you need to be following them from here on out.