Notes From Colt Ford’s Album Release Party
Country music has long been about establishing (and often fabricating) authenticity. Regardless of a singer’s actual background, upbringing, and lifestyle, there’s always been a sense of having to prove one’s country cred. As of late, this trend has led to a slew of backwoods-boasting singles that feature tired stereotypes and worn-out characters.
That being said, I still managed to walk into Colt Ford’s CD release party at 12th and Porter in Nashville with an open mind. The country-rapper exploded onto the independent scene and sold more than 150,000 copies of his debut album, Ride Through the Country, in 2008. So, he must be doing something right…right?
Ford’s record label, Average Joe’s, was set up in the lobby with an ice sculpture along with some Zaxby’s chicken—fitting. Ford sat propped on a couch as he posed for pictures and cordially greeted fans and friends. A self-proclaimed “fat guy,” Ford certainly doesn’t look the part of Nashville success story—and in a way, that’s very refreshing.
Ford took to the stage—as he normally does—with a full country band including prominent fiddle and steel guitar. (That’s more than most mainstream acts can say.) Then, the music begins. It’s a loud mix of bass beats and percussion on top of screeching guitar, fiddle, and steel (with the occasional tractor sound-effect). He covers “Devil Went Down To Georgia” and the spitfire lyrics fit his style. The sound is mostly thumping and reeks of testosterone.
Not surprisingly, the crowd is predominantly male. Perhaps that’s his appeal. In a country music landscape full of sappy love songs and handsome hunks, Ford relates to men—men who drive pick-ups (or wish they did), enjoy a cold beverage, and have no problem comparing their love of a woman to their love of fried poultry.
Therein lays the problem with Ford’s music: the severe lack of substance. Stark truths and story-telling (staples of country music songwriting) are completely absent from his show. The schitck is obvious: Ford is simply repackaging the worst elements of mainstream country “authenticity”—and for him, it’s working. “Tool-Timer” was a welcome departure with slightly more thought put into it, but moments like that were few and far between.
Label-mate Josh Gracin and DMC (of Run/DMC fame) made appearances at the party. Gracin lent his vocals on “All About Y’all” and DMC joined Ford on “Ride On, Ride Out” and a crowd-pleasing version of “Walk This Way.” The arms were waving and fists were pumping (and bumping) as Ford exited after “Biscuits.”
Ford is a polarizing figure. There are disappointing elements like the bored lyrics, uncomfortable on-stage gyrations, and the rap/country meshing. But at the same time, he pays homage to country music tradition, entertains, and seems like a guy who has always stuck to his guns.
There are reasons to admire and reasons to despise—but he’s found an audience for his style. Authentic, genuine, or not—Ford’s stock is rising and Nashville is taking notice.
- luckyoldsun: I think the number one country murder ballad is "Frankie and Johnny"--by Jimmie. Also, how about "Delia's Gone" from Harry Belafonte …
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- Paul W Dennis: I think "Banks of The Ohio", "Miller's Cave" and "It's Nothing to Me" are far creepier than several of the …
- Paul W Dennis: The Hight article is interesting, although I don't know that I would describe it as fantastic, but then I know …
- Dana M: I'm actually excited to hear a new Reba album. As for the Alan Jackson tour, I hope he announces Canadian …
- nm: Agreed. A good job by three very smart women.
- Deremy Jylan: The Hight piece is tremendous reading.
- Juli Thanki: Much like the music of Aldean and FGL, Michelob Ultra is favored by college kids and too much exposure will …
- Tom: ...michelob ultra seems to be a brew from hell.
- luckyoldsun: Maybe he was just changing out of his hunting clothes. At least he didn't do the full Randy...um Monty.