Marc Ford - Holy Ghost (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
FORMER Black Crowes lead guitarist Marc Ford may be widely hailed as one of the most gifted, in-demand rock guitarists of his generation, but he has switched gears to deliver Holy Ghost, his latest solo effort.
Described as the next chapter in a unique Anglo-American collaboration, it is by Ford’s own admission “a reflection of my life” that is “hopeful, in a dark way sometimes”.
To heighten the sense of the personal, the album includes Ford’s wife Kirsten, who contributes vocals, and his son Elijah, who’s been working with Phantom Limb’s Stew Jackson on his own album project, on guitars.
The result is an album that is, as previously stated, steeped in Americana values. It leans heavily towards the country in places. And it’s rich in storytelling – sometimes hopeful, sometimes despairing.
And while certainly accomplished, you can’t help but feel in places that Ford has missed a trick. His guitar work is very subdued for the most part, which feels like something of a missed opportunity. And it’s no surprise that the two out and out highlights – I’m Free and Turquoise Blue – find Ford letting rip.
The former, especially, is drenched in slide guitar that is quite thrilling, especially during the belated solo. It’s here that he justifies his formidable reputation. But the track also has that toe-tapping Americana rock quality as well as an optimism in the lyrics that’s invigorating.
Sometimes, meanwhile, is a more gritty rocker that finds Ford in thoughtful but playful mood, offering observations like “some people think you never had it at all” and “sometimes it just don’t matter what you do”. The sense of urgency and the cute melodies are welcome, as is another of his blistering guitar solos.
Another highlight, albeit a much more thoughtful offering, is In You, which finds Ford in deeply romantic mode and laying his heart on the line to pay tribute to someone special. It’s almost achingly romantic and very laidback – but it’s honesty is endearing.
Elsewhere, Ford eases his way into the Americana vibe and is clearly having his own fun, albeit in restrained laidback fashion. Hence, certain tracks like Just A Girl and You Know What I Mean are solid but unspectacular. And there are perhaps one too many of them in places.
Overall, Holy Ghost is always interesting, sometimes thrilling but ultimately one for the diehard Americana fans only.
Download picks: I’m Free, Sometimes, In You, Blue Sky