Ford Maddox Ford – This American Blues | Album Review

Ford Maddox FordThis American Blues

Porterhouse Records

LP Format Blue vinyl

Side A – 6 Tracks 

Side B – 5 Tracks

With the resurgence in recent years for recordings in the LP format, Blues Blast Magazine is now reviewing releases submitted for review in that format. Album reviews will comment on the music as well as the sonic aspects of the recording.

Fans of the cowpunk band Rank & File will recognize the names of Tony and Chip Kinman, two brothers who were founding members of that seminal band, following the break-up of their first band, the Dils, a punk rock project they led. There will several other bands over the years, including Cowboy Nation, once again mining country influences. The new band has Chip Kinman on guitar and lead vocals. His son, Dewey Peek, handles the lead guitar while Matt Littell on bass and S. Scott Aguero on drums form the formidable rhythm section. Tony Kinman succumbed to cancer in May, living long enough to produce this project. Chip Kinman and his son collaborated on writing ten of the songs.

As one might expect, given their previous work, this album comes at the blues with a harder edge that at times brings to mind the Clash, the Velvet Underground, or David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars era. “Before The Fall” utilizes a variation on the guitar riff from “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” showcasing Peek’s considerable skills. Aguero lays down a relentless beat on “Images Of My Generation,” as the band tears into a pulsating update of sentiments once so eloquently expressed by the Who back in the day. Simmering shreds of guitar feedback introduce “Quicksand,” a brief bit of honest self-assessment.

Chip’s tenor voice lends a lighter note to the lyrics on “I Expect It”. But once Peek’s guitar takes over with a cutting tone, there is little doubt that he is really voicing the despair from fighting to be yourself. Adopting an anthem-like quality, “How Does Your Horn Sound Today” digs into paralyzing effect of losing hope, to the point that even God turns his back on you. The band really hits its stride on “Dark American Nights”. Once again, the band reaches back in time for references that encapsulate our nation’s current plight, offering,”Have you heard the news, there’s no rockin’ tonight. The kids are absolutely not alright”. Things don’t get any better on “I’m Haunted,” a ferocious, guitar-driven rave-up about standing there at the end, wondering what went wrong.

The band gets around to invoking their overt blues influences on “If That”s How You Feel,” steadily building the intensity as Kinman beseeches to make the most of a night together, peek’s guitar snarling and howling in the background along with some unaccredited harmonica blowing. “Promised” is taken at a more measured pace, masking the dark tale of betrayal that Kinman lays out to a swelling guitar accompaniment. “Immediate Nice (Don’t Shoot Andy)” takes listeners deep into the world of Andy Warhol over slashing guitar chords, a forceful bass line, and a raging rhythm. The lone cover injects some punk band energy and drive into Wilbert Harrison’s classic ‘Let’s Work Together,” raising one final hope that perhaps we can find our way to the promised land.

Well recorded and performed with plenty of swagger, this record is one that grows on you through repeated listens. It certainly isn’t your traditional blues album. The lyrical themes touch on the usual universal themes without getting too deep and obtuse. The guitar parts have a gritty bite and, thankfully, avoid the common trap of endless shredding. The Kinmans’ vision of the blues will surely resonate with those favor a contemporary form of the music that rocks with abandon. It also serves as a final, fitting tribute to Tony Kinman’s musical vision.

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