Weary and Wired

Marc Ford

As a member of the Black Crowes and Ben Harper’s Innocent Criminals, Marc Ford sold millions of albums and played in front of millions more. Coming with the success are the accolades, along with the typical excessive indulgences that have mired musicians since the Age of Enlightenment. For Ford, this is an issue he’s recently confronted and taken on, but at a price. In September 2006, the guitarist tendered his resignation from the Black Crowes for reasons of sanity and sobriety. Then he gathered up his former band mates from Burning Tree, the group he played with before joining the Black Crowes in 1992. Together, they patched together Ford’s second solo effort, Weary And Wired. Marc Ford may have given up the drink and dope, but his playing and performance on this ragged and fun-filled collection is loose and very much on the mark.

“Feather Weight Dreamland” is a raunchy opener with a Stonesy/Crowesy feel that showcases Ford’s ample slide guitar work and serviceable, echo-laden vocals. The table is set and the momentum sustained for “Don’t Come Around” and “It’ll Be Over Soon,” a pair of no frills, straight-ahead rockers that could easily find favor in jukeboxes heard ‘round the world. “The Other Side” almost sounds like a candidate for the Black Crowes’ next album (if there ever is one), but Ford ably makes it all his own as he tip toes through the verses before slamming a signature lead that would do the Glimmer Twins proud. “1000 Ways” kicks it up a notch with a tag-you're-it rhythm supplemented wiht a Cream feel that practically forces Ford to cop his best Clapton without treading too deep into Slowhand’s jungle of polyrhythmic blues. Then he assumes a Neil Young and Crazy Horse posture for “Smoke Signals” and all bets are off.

The sultry jazz horns that introduce “Greazy Chicken” take the record into yet another direction. Like Derek Trucks and John Mayer, Ford is an old school stylist with a new school sensibility, and he isn't afraid to dip his wick in the porridge of diversity. By the time we get to the ebb and flow of “Currents,” the rude attitude of “Just Take The Money,” the tribal stomp of “Medicine Time,” the rockabilly swing of “Bye Bye Suzy,” and the woozy jazzamatazz of “The Big Callback,” it’s clear that Ford is a renaissance man for all the right reasons. No longer the sideman without fixture or focus, Marc Ford has crafted Weary And Wired on the notion few artists ever get a chance to claim: a commitment to the art of rock and roll and beyond.

~ Shawn Perry

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