“You ever heard of the blues? That’s me.” - T-Model Ford
Following up on a the 2010 T-Model Ford & GravelRoad’s release The Ladies Man, The Man and his band are back to kick off 2011 in that pure unadulterated North Mississippi Hill Country style. Showing that he has rebounded nicely from a stroke, the 90 year old Ford is back in fine form complemented perfectly by the GravelRoad trio and a host of special guests.
From the opening strains of “Same Old Train,” the listener is treated to that “Jack Daniel’s Time!” groove which has a lazy back porch vibe, but is also precise. T-Model’s guitar work retains an efficient sound which is heavy on substance and has very minimal flash. Special guest Brian Olive’s lazy barrelhouse piano work offers great counterpoint to Ford & GravelRoad’s groove and adds an additional layer that helps propel the seven minute long track. It may only be a few chords throughout the song, but it never becomes repetitive.
On “I’m Coming Home” Olive has traded his piano work for a baritone saxophone. While a surprising choice in instrumentation for the juke joint North Mississippi Hill Country blues sound, the execution is flawless. Olive must have taken cues from GravelRoad as until he takes a solo, every note is played to complement the groove. T-Model is once again in full voice, singing a tale of lost love. Holding the song all together is Marty Reinsel on drums. One of the hardest parts of holding down a lazy shuffle groove is never allowing the groove to flatten out. Reinsel shows that though he may be a resident of Seattle, he can trace his roots back to the North Mississippi Hill Country.
Though all eight tracks of Taledragger are highly enjoyable clinics on the variations of the 12 bar progression, “Little Red Rooster” happens to be a personal favorite. In a tune that is covered all too often, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel T-Model Ford & GravelRoad strip it back down to all of its raunchy glory. From the instrumentation standpoint, Ford, GravelRoad guitarist Stefan Zillioux and bassist Jon “Kirby” Newman weave their guitar work with other lines from Matthew Smith on acoustic and Mike Weinel on slide. After several spins at various volumes, determining all of the guitar lines is damn near impossible, but an enjoyable exercise because of the four to five determinable guitar lines there is never a feeling of the track being cluttered.
In this giving season, for every person out there receiving a guitar for the holidays an accompanying copy of Taledragger would be a perfect complement. T-Model Ford & GravelRoad have once again provided a perfect illustration of how people who play music are capable of reproducing what has been done before but it takes actual musicians to keep reinventing and re-infusing the most very basic progressions into enjoyable pieces of music for all.
Scheduled release date: January 11, 2011