Chris Ford and his SuBourbon Blues Project Release “Whiskey Still”
Chris Ford and his SuBourbon Blues Project kick off 2022 with a hard-charging single entitled “Whiskey Still”. Culled from the band’s sophomore album Where Concrete Meets the Grass, it’s a ballsy all out yowl from a bygone era in some ways, but it has all the necessary vitality to meet today’s listeners head on. The song’s desperation is one of the key factors putting it over the top; there’s a definite sense of stakes present in this song from the first. It doesn’t sound like an entertainment. It sounds more like a ransom note.
Pairing hard-hitting drums, blistering guitar, harmonica, and impassioned vocals has been part of the formula for memorable blues rock since the genre’s earliest days. Ford has no hesitation to make use of the genre’s muscle and does it without ever sounding like a limp, bloodless rehash of much better artists. There are many reasons why he’s able to pull off what seems to thwart other artists.
The biggest is his vocals. He sings all out, never giving listener’s half measures, and giving himself over to the moment completely. He isn’t a screamer. Keen listeners will hear obvious soul in what he does along with the power and hearing him tackle the same phrases with a slightly different approach each time out makes its mark on listeners. It’s one of the hallmarks of a superior singer.
There’s nothing fancy about his approach. He gets inside this song with the skill of someone living out the subject for listeners and never fails to sound convincing. His voice meshes well with the guitars and harmonica as well. The latter only pops up at scattered points through the song, but the guitar is a near constant fixture. His stomping tempo for much of the song helps prevent any six-string overkill.
It’s a single that understands dynamics as well. There isn’t any light in this song, per se, but Ford’s skillful manipulation of the song’s evolution keeps it from being far from an one-note affair. It’s a song dying to be heard in front of a live audience, for sure. It’s clear that Ford and his cohorts are on fire with the chops to take material like this and knock it out of the park for a concert crowd.
That’s where music of this ilk really comes alive. You can hear that Chris Ford understands the form inside and out and his lack of interest in a purist vision of blues is actually refreshing. There’s nothing even faintly academic about his take. It’s alive, instead, with a sincere reaction to the music, to life, and invites listeners to share in its rewards. The big sound that this song has shouldn’t obscure the basic building blocks that make it so good. Listeners familiar with Ford’s music will nod and love his new work. Newcomers will want more. It’s an excellent early taste of what awaits you on the full album and there’s nothing to indicate Ford won’t keep getting better and better with each new release.