Sallie Ford, Tyler Tornfelt, Ford Tennis and Jeff Munger.
Album: Dirty Radio
For Fans Of: Thao + The Get Down Stay Down, Langhorne Slim, The Felice Brothers
“I think not knowing anybody allowed me to be someone new,” says Sallie Ford, who moved to Portland, Ore., after backpacking through Europe alone one summer. “After that experience, I just felt like I could do anything, I could move anywhere.”
For Ford, “doing anything” apparently meant moving across the country and starting a band, something she’d never had the gumption to do back home in Ashville, NC. In fact, Ford had only done one solitary open mic before she moved. “It was kind of traumatic and didn’t go the best,” she says. “When I moved to Portland, I was hanging out with friends and we were drinking and then somehow they convinced me to play them some songs…Yeah, it all started from there pretty much.”
It’s an inauspicious beginning for an artist whose current output is bone-rattling, blues-tinged, jazz influenced, indie-rockabilly.
“I think not knowing anybody allowed me to be someone new,” says Ford, who quickly adapted her new identity and drummed up the confidence to start playing out and recruit a backing band, The Sound Outside. The group’s 2009 EP Not an Animal garnered favorable attention and their 2011 full length follow-up Dirty Radio is set to push them further into the spotlight. The record flaunts scrappy pop/blues arrangements that feature Ford’s enigmatic vocal stylings. The songs fit in a comfortable groove of modern ideas and vintage sounds, which is both intentional and perhaps, in a way political.
“When I turn on the radio it all sounds the same,” sings Ford on “I Swear,” the album opener. “What have these people done to music?” she asks a second later. “[When I wrote that song,] I was working in a restaurant at the time and the dishwashers would put on this really horrible new music from the radio,” says Ford, “It was frustrating to hear what’s in fashion now, that music’s come to not even having a real voice anymore.”
Without question, Ford has found a real voice, both in terms of the way she sings and the things she sings about, which is why she admits there’s another layer of meaning to “I Swear.” “That song’s also about the fact I’ve always had a hard time deciding whether or not I should cuss in my songs,” she confesses, “some people think that it holds me back, but if that’s going to hold me back from being on the radio, I don’t care. I want to be able to cuss and speak my mind and be weird. I guess it’s just about the fact that I write music from a place that’s honest. I don’t ever over think it. It just comes out, you know?”