Sallie Ford could fool everyone if she wanted to. She could have her way with us. (She just might want to have her way with us anyway, for all we know. We wouldn't put it past her, that little minx.) She would have us chasing our tails, all twisted up into confusing tangles, if she was to play that hand.
The Portland-by-way-of her childhood home in Asheville, North Carolina, Ford is sly and kind of seductive, aggressive and forward. She's the girl that's going to throw her hand into your back pocket, even if you don't know her all that well. She's going to make out with you behind the house and she's going to undress you with her eyes and then some. She'll do all of this, but you'd never know it from seeing and talking with her. She's an unassuming, cute, glasses-wearing bookworm-type that you'd suspect for a future scientist or veterinarian - someone that loves dogs and horses, but not someone who's going to talk dirty to you or jump your bones. Ford, on her debut full-length, "Dirty Radio," is a feisty dish of a woman, playful and determined to get what she's after. The characters in her lyrics aren't going to beat around the bush. They're going to express themselves. They're going to pull the timid, slow-moving boys to them and in seconds, collars will be wrinkled, breaths will be hot and lips will be distorted, sliding together, smooshing up against one another in a lock.
She sings on, "Against The Law," "Gonna eat you up like a piece of cake/Even if it was a big mistake/Baby baby won't you be with me/Gonna suck you up in a straw/Even if it was against the law/Baby baby won't you be with me/I don't know what they saw, but it wasn't against the law," and it sounds filthy. It sounds like it most definitely WAS against the law. We'd lock her up just on conjecture and the texture of the message alone, delivered as it is in a swampy jazz number that reeks of hot loving and tumbling around in the darkness.
Her specialty is a number of things, but Ford sticks to a mountain-like soulfulness that's combined with an old-timey feeling, sock-hop sound that comes out as if it could have been on the same bill with Sam Cooke back in the 1960s. She sings of dangerous men and dangerous women, but they're heard here as the lights that everyone's drawn to like summer bugs to that buzzing purple haze, not the kinds of people that we legitimately try to avoid or think twice before hooking up with them in a fit of passion. It's fighting the dangerous impulses that never happens. Ford's songs are all testaments to giving in to those urges, to being someone unlike yourself, if only for short periods of time, putting on different faces and personalities and just letting all of those inhibitions flow out like spiders.
*Essay originally published June, 2011
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