Chicago – Southern lass Sallie Ford is proof dreams do come true. After splitting with The Sound Outside, the singer-songwriter did what she’s always dreamed of: making one badass all girl rock ‘n’ roll band. Ford and her trusty guitar, along with bassist Anita Lee Elliot, drummer Amanda Spring, and keyboardist Cristina Cano make up Sallie Ford. The Portland foursome worked with producer Chris Funk (The Decemberists) to create their new album Slap Back (Vanguard Records).
Influenced by Surf rock, garage rock, and classic rock, Ford declares Slap Back to be an “ode to all babe rockers from Joan Jett, Blondie and Pat Benetar to PJ Harvey & Exene Cervenka.” Ford writes about what is around her, from beautiful Oregon scenery to that drab job that barely pays the bills. It is also a tribute to what could have been. Ford writes about what all adults experience in life and love – unless you’re one of those strange intriguing people who married their high school sweetheart and is still friends with your bathroom buddy from kindergarten – that awful over-analyzing of failed relationships.
After a sexy throwback to simpler times intro, the album slaps you right in the face with “Coulda Been.” The beat invites you to dance off the emotions that Ford’s lyrics wittingly articulate about lost love, mind games, and a disastrous romance. Ford said “Coulda Been” talks “about games that people play in romantic relationships and how you always want what you can’t have.” “Coulda Been” also clues you in to what Slap Back has in store: killer guitars, fabulous keys, tight drums, and a whole lot of rocking!
“Workin’ The Job” starts out with an 80s feel thanks to Cano’s keys. Spring’s drums build it up till finally Ford’s wonderful voice breaks in, singing about the hassles of that crappy day job, but most importantly the frustration that comes when that shitty gig stifles your sex life. Super groovy “Oregon” plays like a lustful psychedelic love letter to Ford’s adoptive state.
In “An Ending” Ford sings, “Should I Be Heart Broken / since it is the end / yeah you were good to me / but I think things are how they’re supposed to be.” Perhaps this is in reference to The Sound Outside?
With a playful melody and a 60s feel, “Hey Girl” seems to poke fun at lovers’ promises while undercutting them with feminist empowerment. “Dive In” will make you want to “scream and shout” along with Sallie while shaking your butt off.
Ford’s tough girl attitude shines through in “Lucky To Miss and “You Bet Your Ass.” Both are filled with harmonious vocals, and the latter breathes hints of rockabilly every so often. The guitar riffs are fabulous. “Never Be Lame” stands out vocally and lyrically. Ford sings, “Just because we don’t screw, don’t mean you can’t make me feel blue.”
The album ends with the trippy and contagious “Let Go.” This track is one of the strongest on the album. It deserves to be replayed again and again. Heck, that goes for all of Slap Back!
Sallie Ford has found herself and her sound. If you love rock and roll, Slap Back should be part of your record collection.
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.