Harvesting My Roots (2019)
Club 27 (2020)
We're going to do something different with the
Flashback feature this month. Instead of going way, way back, we
are instead featuring a pair of albums released independently a
few years ago by a young and very exciting artist, Ivy
Ford, who spends time both around Chicago and in Wisconsin.
She's an extremely talented and versatile artist capable of
covering a wide variety of musical styles. The biggest mystery
is why one of the regular blues labels has not picked up this
promising and already outstanding artist. Ford is a
multi-instrumentalist, equally adept on guitar and keyboards,
and possessing a powerful voice.
Harvesting My Roots was released in 2019,
with a variety of styles making up the 11 original numbers. A
studio version of the title cut opens the album, with Ford's
acoustic slide guitar starting the song and later switching over
to electric guitar for a hot solo, while also mixing in some
dobro. With power to her voice, she sings about how her
background and ancestry have contributed to where she's at now,
inheriting her talents from her family, singing, "...I'm just
paying my dues, I'm harvesting my roots." The album closes with
a live version of "Harvesting My Roots," with a heavier sound
and slightly longer playing time than the studio cut.
Ford shows her skills on the piano on the second
number, "Daddy Of Mine," with a gospel-flavored intro before she
sings a tribute to her father. That leads into an up-tempo
country blues stomper, "One Life To Live," before Davis tears it
up on blues guitar on "Not in the Right Way."
The slow, dirge-like "Devil Song" is as eerie as
the title makes it sound, with Ford putting lots of echo into
her haunting vocals in order to put the listeners into a trance.
She explains that she doesn't know how much she owes the devil
for the many roads she's crossed. The pace picks up considerably
on "Work For My Love," with jumpin' guitar chords that will
remind of John Lee Hooker. Back to a slower tempo, "Similar
Street" is an absolutely beautiful soulful ballad.
Ford sings about her liquid distilled friend on
"Whiskey Love," advising that it'll take you for a ride but to
keep your hands inside. It's a slower-paced number with a hint
of gypsy music. Ford then tears it up with a very hot guitar
instrumental intro to the up-tempo swinger "Start a Fight,"
before ending with an outstanding mid-tempo blues, "When Does It
All End," as she laments many of the societal problems of the
another year forward with Club 27, named for the number
of significant musicians who died at that age as well as the
album having been released on her own 27th birthday.
Club 27 starts strong with "Keep On
Blues," starting with a snippet of a Robert Johnson recording at
the front with Ford then seamlessly jumping in and laying down
essentially the same guitar sound and later inserting lines from
various Johnson songs throughout the tune. One of the many
highlights of Club 27 is "Mama Didn't Raise No Fool," a subtle
country-style blues done originally be Sugar Pie DeSanto. Ford's
vocals have so much echo that it sounds like there are Ivy Ford
clones singing in harmony, and she kicks in with a tasty
electric keyboard solo.
Ford's voice soars on the up-tempo "Black
Sheep," propelled along by her driving blues guitar work. Up
next is "Little Miss Little One," a pleasant song that she wrote
about her daughter. Ford plays acoustic guitar at the top of the
song, later switching over to piano. A very heartfelt number.
Ford states emphatically on "Ready 2 Die" that her time
shouldn't be up yet because she has so much else to accomplish
in life, accompanying her vocals with rhythmic guitar chords and
The foreboding vibe of "FINE" is introduced by
fuzzy acoustic guitar notes before Ford shouts out the vocal
lines with edginess, power and range. The mood changes on "Love
in This World," a pleasant, lilting song that feels like
something from the 1930s or 1940s, with a wonderful acoustic
guitar solo and nice piano from Ford. Even better, there's a
background chorus made up of a whole team of digital Ivy Fords.
Ford continues to show the diversity in her
music with "Believe What You Heard," with horns added to the
song's rhumba beat. She even surprises us by playing sax on this
number that sounds like it came from decades ago. "When I Met
You" demonstrates the Amy Winehouse influence in Ford's music,
with the slow number a vehicle for Ford to show the incredible
range in her voice.
She saves the best for last, with the mid-tempo
bouncy blues "Sky's The Limit" being the piece de resistance of
Club 27. All of Ford's talents --- guitar, organ, vocals
--- come together to make this one a candidate for 2020 song of
the year, if we are allowed a re-vote. Ford is telling her man
to leave because without him the sky's the limit for her.
Yes, the sky IS the limit for Ford's career as
soon as the rest of the blues world catches on to what she's got
to offer. Harvesting My Roots and Club 27 are just
stepping stones on the career of this young artist. I can't wait
to hear what's next.
--- Bill Mitchell