Blues Bytes

Flashback

June 2022

Ivy Ford
Harvesting My Roots (2019)
self-released

Ivy Ford
Club 27 (2020)
self-released

Ivy Ford

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 current day.

Ivy FordJump 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 piano.

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

 

 

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