Sunday, January 16, 2011

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad - Taledragger


T-Model Ford and GravelRoad
Taledragger
Alive

If the blues is a continuum more than a set of songs and styles, T-Model Ford sits squarely on the curve. The 90-something North Mississippi Hill Country bluesman has been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, gotten it stained with god knows what, stuffed it in the mouth of whatever no-good sonofabitch he was killing for diddling his woman and done it all to the tunes that just float in the air in the American South. Taledragger is his latest missive from the juke joint, and on it he’s joined by youngbloods GravelRoad and producers Brian Olive (Greenhornes, Soledad Brothers) and Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry, Volebeats). The studio dudes add some atmosphere to Ford’s barebones sound – reverb gives his hoarse shouts and moans more character than they already have, and the wah-wah guitar, busy piano, piercing slide and general rock & roll drive buoy the old bastard up, rather than drown him out. As is common in these parts, the songs remain mostly the same – How Many More Years and Little Red Rooster hail from the catalog of the mighty Howlin’ Wolf, while Same Old Train is better known, in the hands of Muddy Waters, as Still a Fool (or Two Trains Running). Big Legged Woman has been recorded by everyone from Brownie McGhee and Champion Jack Dupree to Charles Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis, and the variations on Red Dress are endless. The blasting Someone’s Knocking at My Door and the undulating I Worn My Body For So Long sound like Ford’s own, but who can tell? More importantly, who cares? Originality ain’t nowhere near the point. Joyful noise and lascivious grace matter more than anything here, and Ford is full of enough of both to overflow a vessel twice the size of Taledragger.

- Michael Toland

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