By Phil Santala
Listening to David Ford's debut album, I Sincerely Apologize for All the Trouble I've Caused, is a unique experience. That being said, it should be noted that his musical style is highly reminiscent of Damien Rice. Comparisons aside, David offers an album that is both bleak and uplifting. It is an album protesting the bleak past of mankind, while praising its unbridled future - an odd juxtaposition of values to be sure.
The record wanders a bit, perhaps over the same ground. While not getting into that "all his (their) songs sound alike" critique that jamband fans have heard lumped on all their favorite artists, it should be noted that eventually the listener might begin to wonder if perhaps there is any catharsis at all. Will David ever really open up to that unbridled future mentioned above? He does just that, but slowly and in pieces. The result is great when those pieces are caught but can be depressing and frustrating when they slide by, just like life, which can be depressing unless you stop and notice the glory of all things, even when you're hurting. The presentation is exactly as frustrating as David wanted it.
David seems to sing about hurting a lot. In other reviews David Ford has been compared to a lot of depression-motivated singers and songwriters like Ryan Adams, Tom Waits, Damien Rice, Bob Dylan, and Kurt Cobain. If any of those, especially the last two, seem like a bit of a stretch, then you might want to disregard my next comparison. While listening to the album, I kept trying to push out images and references to Widespread Panic's front man John Bell. Finally, the comparison was made in my mind. It's not Ford's singing or playing style that draws comparisons to John Bell, it's the place that writing and hurt come from. The familiarities are in songs that are written about going there and back again, and in the end, loving every minute of it. Pain and suffering aside, life can be beautiful, if only because you've had to suffer and endure that pain. "I Don't Care What You Call Me" is just such a song. It seems to be a song written not just about the pain and suffering someone else can cause you, but the release and even joy that can be felt when the source of that pain and suffering loses control over you and your life. A common theme throughout the album, especially on songs like "Cheer up (You Miserable Fuck)" and "What Would You Have Me Do?," in which David sings:
Another empty bottle in the hand,
It helps to kill the things we don't understand.
But I'm a fool for you,
And what else would you have me do?
Comparisons could be drawn for days, not just between John Bell and David Ford, but with other artists like Bill Withers. At the end of the day, it should simply be said that it is not often a singer/songwriter like David Ford wanders in from out of the wilderness with a strong debut album like this one. It's a perfect listen for a drive on one of those rainy summer days, watching the gloom and doom being swept away as the storm breaks up ahead of the car while you travel further on down the road.
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