# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Rick Ford and Mixon - Across the Border/Trouble

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 3 / 11 / 2018

Rick Ford and Mixon - Across the Border/Trouble
Label: Faradawn Records
Format: CD


Versatile double CD from British musician and storyteller Rick Ford, which comes with an accompanying book, ‘Words’, that contains the lyrics to all five of his albums to date

The first snow of the season was falling as I woke this morning; the pure white blanket is growing thicker by the minute still as I sit down to write a few words about the new double album by British singer-songwriter Rick Ford. Listening to Ford’s latest work while the snow falls quietly about seems appropriate; the cover of the lyric book ('Words') he’s produced to accompany the album even features an image of Ford and his faithful dog in snow covered territory. The chilly black and white image of a snow-scraped road on the album’s cover reinforces this melancholy feel. It gives a predetermined view of what to expect when listening to the music within. Ford (under the name Richard Ford) has written three novels, the first of which was published in 1982 and became an international best seller; it was part of what became known as 'The Faradawn Trilogy'. The last of these, ‘The Children Of Ashgaroth’, was number 8 in a Sunday Times bestseller list. The fact that Tolkien’s name has cropped up in reviews of Ford’s books on more than one occasion gives some indication of his writing and talent. But it’s his latest double album that concerns us here although the book Ford has published alongside the release, which contains not only the lyrics to all five of his albums but also the stories behind some of them is fascinating reading alone. All the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Cancer Research UK. As Ford so rightly points out if you’ve heard the songs before reading the lyrics you’ll hear the song in your head as you read. If you’ve yet to hear his music then reading the lyrics will still fascinate. If you’re one of the latter I’d strongly suggest reading the book first before you are familiar with the songs and doubling your pleasure. Ford lives in the English Peak District, beautiful but at times challenging surroundings that have no doubt coloured his music, on these albums at least. Describing the music on ‘Across the Border/Trouble’ is not so easy; the members of Mixon flesh out Ford’s folky blues leanings perfectly with dobro, pedal steel, violin, flute and lap steel as well as the usual acoustic, electric and bass guitars. Ford plays three-string split tin guitar on some tracks creating even more texture; the total sum of all these sounds pushes Ford’s music way above that made by others who share a similar musical vision to Ford. Then there’s the fact that this always inviting sound is accompanied by one of Ford’s little stories. The double set opens with the title track of ‘Across the Border’, in Ford’s own words “a song of love and hope” upon which Rosie Rushton’s weeping violin compliments Ford’s warm vocals perfectly. The minimalist instrumentation only adds to the power of the song. It’s a perfect opening to what is to follow. ‘Cold Hearted Neighbour’ isn’t directed at any one particular conflict but can be applied to the numerous atrocities committed when we turn against our own which have occurred throughout the years. Once again the subtle backing highlights this sad tale. One of the most touching songs on ‘Across the Border’ is ‘The Broken Crucifix’. Ford explains in his introduction that his great-uncle fought in the Battle of the Somme and found a small crucifix in the mud, which Ford now owns. Ford wrote the song around this. It’s a heartbreaking tale and when Ford ceases singing and speaks a few lines as machine-gun fire opens in the tale it’s extremely chilling and effective. That’s one mighty powerful song and message. In spite of some heavy and thought-provoking lyrics there are lighter times on the album. Each of Ford’s three grandchildren has inspired a song on the set; ‘Ruby May’ is a lovely folk song, coupling Ford’s love of nature and wildlife with that of his family, it’s a lovely diversion and Ford has captured his feelings so eloquently. Another lighter moment is captured in ‘Rosie’s Dancing’ inspired by Ford catching violinist Rosie Rushton dancing barefoot in the pouring rain in a world completely of her own. Again Ford has captured the moment perfectly and, although that white stuff continues to fall outside, the joy expressed in the song has made even these old bones want to go outside and express myself. You don’t have to live in the countryside to appreciate ‘I Won’t Mind’, which is basically the dialogue between Ford and an old man he met in the forest but there can’t be many who live near woodland who, in their later years, have not shared this experience. Even down to the last telling line. Yet another powerful, honest song and one that will resonate with so many. ‘Trouble’ also opens with its title song; there’s more of a blues flavour to this track than those on ‘Across the Border’; the song features one of Ford’s three- string split guitars, this one made from a World War 1 gas mask tin. The guitar lends a lovely authentic sound to the song and for more information about these fascinating instruments check out www.split-tinguitars.co.uk: it’s well worth your time. Even when Ford tackles the age-old subject of love lost or gone wrong as he does on ‘Caged Bird’ his storytelling is more honest and touches bases few others are capable of reaching in song. “I notice that you bought some new dresses/They clung to you like an upmarket whore/And when you came in late with that smile on your face/I’d never wanted you more” then later “but to live with someone without loving/Would be like losing myself.” There is such honesty here that it’s heartbreaking. With sweet female vocal assistance from Sue Brunt, this song is a highlight of the second album in this set. ‘Logpile Blues’ is just that; inspired yet shocked by the diminishing pile of logs that Ford no doubt uses for his warmth through the winter months, this song features not only Ford’s wailing harmonica but another of those three-stringed split tin guitars; this time the instrument is known as The Bard as it’s created from an antique Victory V tin decorated with images from Shakespeare’s plays. ‘May the Road’ covers the time that Ford was diagnosed with bowel cancer and his time in hospital for treatment before he was allowed home again. This was a time, Ford relates in his introduction, when he “lived for the sight of the trees and the clouds through the window and the cries of the seagulls”; it’s another gorgeous melody and the lyrics are full of imagery, given the subject matter it’s given a surprisingly jaunty arrangement and one that shows that Ford's music covers so many genres that it’s impossible to tie him to just one. Ford closes ‘Trouble’ with a short instrumental titled, appropriately, ‘Goodnight’, just Ford and The Bard checking out in style. Ford notes at the end of the ‘Words’ lyrics book that his trilogy of books are available from Amazon or his own website at www.rickfordsongwriter.co.uk, along with all his CDs. A visit to Ford’s website is highly recommended especially if you are looking for a singer-songwriter who has something important to say and has an appealing way of getting his message across. As a starting point to all this man’s talents this latest double CD ‘Across the Border/Trouble’ is a good place to start; as an introduction to his way with words then the fittingly titled ‘Words’ is a must.

Track Listing:-
1 Across the Border
2 Cold Hearted Neighbour
3 Broken Crucifix
4 Ruby May
5 Simple Man
6 Street Child
7 Sweet Maries
8 Rosie's Dancing
9 I Won't Mind
10 Midnight Rider (Field Recording)
11 Trouble
12 Searching for My Saviour
13 Caged Bird
14 Logpile Blues
15 Love in Your Life
16 May the Road (View from Ward 9)
17 Midnight Rider
18 Promised Land
19 Goodnight

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