Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Clifton's Ford - "Places We Went Wrong"

Clifton’s Ford are an emerging folk rock trio who just self-released, Places We Went Wrong, their very promising debut album on June 1.  This relatively new band formed in the spring of 2012 and is led by singer-songwriter Jordan Yates and rounded out by Bonnie Van Dyke and Henry Killian.  The band is based out of Damascus, Virginia and early on, they started out by covering music by some of their favorite musicians, playing local shows, and calling themselves Strangevine, after the Delta Spirit song of the same name.  But as their musical chemistry began to grow tighter, they sharpened their focus on writing and performing their own original songs and changed their name to Clifton’s Ford.  The trio cobbles together a seemingly effortless blend of old timey folk, bluegrass, country and blues along with a pop-leaning, modern indie rock edge and close-knit vocal melodies for a unique sound that recalls such like-minded neo-folk favorites as The Head And The Heart, Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show.
The album opens with “Angels At Your Door” and its steady, jig-inducing acoustic guitar rhythm and infectious mandolin figures that dance right up and down the fret board  Stand out track “Baby Girl” follows with a swinging rhythm and vocal melodies so solid that they could probably withstand the Armageddon.  I would say that it’s pretty safe to assume that this track is a live favorite with its catchy, sing-along chorus.  Bonnie Van Dyke takes the lead on “Catch 22 Blues”, which blends a boardwalk-strutting bass line and some blues rock tropes with a midtempo bluegrass rhythm for what the band has affectingly dubbed as “blues-grass”.  “Despicable Little You” slows down the pace a bit to shine the light on Jordan and Bonnie’s undeniable vocal chemistry, with a call and response vocal passage for another standout moment.  “Electronica Harmonica” throws in a wrinkle, adding in a bouncy, Reggae-inspired rhythm, giving the upbeat song a fun, beach-y vibe.  This song is the perfect example that shows that the band is having just as much fun playing the songs as you will enjoy listening to them and that really means something.  “End Of Summer Song” opens with playful mandolin figures before launching into a swinging, piano-led honky-tonk rhythm with nostalgia-laced lyrics that long for those summer flings and days gone by.  Another standout, “Figures And Shapes” continues with the piano as Bonnie takes the lead again for a touching ballad of regret, highlighted by the bittersweet vocal melodies of the aching chorus.  Though not quite an ode to their home state of Virginia, “North Carolina” is pretty close, as its natural beauty is captured in the lush mandolin and vocal melodies.  Next, “We’re Only Optimistic” features lively mandolins and some driving acoustic guitar strumming along with some sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek lyrics.  The aptly-titled “Sleep Walking Melodies” is hypnotic yet almost haunting with echoing vocals and a rollicking, carnival-like piano riff.  The eleven song album closes out with the pumping Reggae-inspired vintage organ, swirling mandolin melodies and energetic rhythm of “A Theme For Bizarre Behavior”.             
With the excellent musicianship, stellar songwriting and catchy melodies found on their impressive debut album, Places We Went Wrong, the up-and-coming folk rock band, Clifton’s Ford prove that the studio wasn’t one of the places where they went wrong.  So pick up their album on June 1 and get on the bandwagon quickly, because with a lucky break, this band is sure to explode and garner the attention that they deserve. 

For more info: www.cliftonsford.com


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