David Ford

David Ford takes Songs for the Road on the Road

David Ford is a British singer/songwriter who approaches his craft with a refreshingly honest and easy going nature that really comes through in his writing. His latest record, Songs for the Road, is finally available in North America after being out for several months in the UK. I recently had a nice, long conversation with Ford about his music and the trials and tribulations of constantly being on the road.

I ask David about the new record, and he tells me:

"It was a very long and painful process doing it. I mean not so much writing the songs - the songs are the easy bit - but then actually making the record was ugly and involved.... There were loads of people who were on my back to make a record they could sell. In the end it sort of lead to arguments, fallings out with all sorts of people who were like 'No, it must sound like a radio record,' and I hate radio records. I think a sure way to ruin a good moment is to try and make it sound like a hit single. So those were kind of the arguments we were constantly having, and in the end I think we kind of settled somewhere where I didn't feel overly compromised but at the same time everyone felt like there was a compromise."

The record itself does not strike me as being particularly radio-friendly for most modern programming formats. It's gentler piano and acoustic guitar tones hearken back to the days when an artist could just sing a song without having it over-produced within an inch of its life to make it sound like an already proven hit single. "We tried to keep it as tasteful as possible," Ford humbly states.

It seems that Ford is constantly on the road these days, and the homesick lyrics of his new album's title track make me curious about how he manages to find balance between his home life and his life on the road. "Essentially, it's not a very balanced balance," admits Ford. "I kind of don't have a home life - I've become a North American wandering hobo, something of a displaced refugee wandering from town to town with guitar and a box of machines. It's kind of strange, but it's still early days for me.... Ask me in three months and I probably will be on my fifth nervous breakdown by then, and will have developed all sorts of alcohol and pancake dependencies."

The "box of machines" he's referring to help him out when he performs live, spontaneously overdubbing parts to "put on the biggest and the most full-on shows that I possibly can do but completely on my own and without having anything pre-recorded, 'cause that's cheesy."

Songs for the Road is deceptively short. Time seems to slip away while you listen to it, and I was surprised after my first listening to discover that only 37 minutes had gone by in the real world. "I didn't want to have any filler in there," says Ford, "which is why it's such a short record.... I wanted every song to kind of do its own job and every track on there to be significant and for it to work as a complete body of music rather than a 16-track album where it just tails off towards the end and becomes lost in a continual dirge of also-ran music. I've always been a fan of albums that start at the beginning, end at the end and don't overstay their welcome."

David Ford, his guitar, and his box full of clever little machines are currently on tour opening for the Irish band Bell X1. They'll all be in town at the el Mocambo on Wednesday, March 12 at 10PM. [Ticket Information]

Photo Source: Original Signal Recordings

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