Record Review: T-Model Ford and GravelRoad

by | Mar 1, 2011 | Reviews

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad
Greenville, MS // Seattle, WA

“Loud and raucous return of the Chicken Head Man”

T-Model Ford first began recording in his seventies, discovered by Bruce Watson of the Fat Possum label.  Since leaving Fat Possum, T-Model Ford has moved towards a Chicago style blues, heavily indebted to (and based on) Howlin’ Wolf.  In that case, Taledragger is his London Sessions, where a younger generation backs up and modernizes the music of their respected elder much like Eric Clapton and varied British blues-rock musicians did for the Wolf.

Seattle’s GravelRoad, taking Clapton’s place in the metaphor, has been backing T-Model for almost three years now on the road.  This experience and on-the-job training gives them the ability to keep it loose with T-Model, who like many blues artists, might not play 12 bar-blues, exactly.  They might add or subtract a bar here or there. Surprise!

Taledragger is the (very) electric answer to last year’s excellent acoustic The Ladies Man.  It was a brave move for the producers to add more musicians to a performer as unpredictable as T-Model (piano, bari-sax and organ are added) to what is a live-in-the-studio record.  Yes, there are some missed changes, but the band gives T-Model’s music power and swing like he’s rarely had before.  “Big Legged Woman,” a highlight of the album, really rocks more than anything, thanks to some great, Kenny Brown inspired slide from Matthew Smith.  As the last man standing from the once great Fat Possum blues roster, T-Model Ford is still providing a welcome antidote to today’s slick and gimmicky blues scene.  This sure as shit ain’t Keb’ Mo’. (Alive Records)

Produced by Brian Olive, Matthew Smith and Arthur Alexander // Recorded by Arthur Alexander and Brian Hussey // Recorded at Company Studio, Glendale, CA // Mixed by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders, Detroit, MI

-Warren McQuiston