Review Summary: Sallie Ford is out to raise hell
Indie-Blues rock has become quite trendy within the past ten years. Bands with a bluesy sound were gaining traction in the mainstream, such as The White Stripes, Cold War Kids, and, especially in the past couple years, The Black Keys. The same time that blues was experiencing a resurgence, female soul vocalists like Amy Winehouse, Adele, Joss Stone, and Duffy were having large hits in the mainstream, leading to a heightened interest in the sounds of the oppressed. What was formerly the escape of African-Americans before and during the civil rights movement was becoming the favorites of middle class white kids in trendy coffee shops. Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside have continued on this road of soul and blues-lite, doing something that is rarely heard from this type of music: sound genuine
lives and dies by Sallie Ford’s smoky and dirty vocals and attitude. Ford carries a swagger through her lyrics that is best shown in the track, “Bad Boys”, where she is out to prove that she is a forceful woman ”You could say I’m just a girl, but I’ve had a lady or two, I bet she’d prefer me to you”
. Ford knows her vocal strengths well, and as a result she makes the most out of every track. Sometimes she gives off a Billie Holiday vibe, and other times she will sound just like Karen O. The band, or “Sound Outside”, play with energy on every track, keeping the album from ever getting too bogged down. The guitarist, Jeff Munger, can write a blues line with the best of them. His ear for a catchy melody helps enhance his frontwoman’s vocals while also being able to take center stage. The songs tend to be shorter, with half of the tracks lasting no longer than three minutes. This proves to help more than hinder them as they seem to work best in shorter, energetic spurts, although their longest track “Shivers”, placed in the center of the album, is an exemplary example of a drawn out and minimal ballad.
Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside have carved out their own spot in the new wave of Blues by having a unique and powerful vocalist with gravitas, and writing playful tunes with loads of energy and attitude. The album can lull at points and get a little repetitive, but for the most part Untamed Beast
is a fun and wild ride at the hands of Sallie Ford and her cohorts from Portland, OR. With more bite and wit than most of their contemporaries, Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside show a veteran’s eye for catchy tunes that belies their relatively recent origins. Untamed Beast
is yet another unexpected and fantastic album from an already impressive 2013, and should not be missed.