When Robben Ford approaches traditional blues, he takes ownership, transporting it to new places. This latest five-song EP is no different, as he wields Willie Dixon’s “Crazy For My Baby” and injects his unique sense of swing, phrasing, and harmonic color.
He’s backed here by Wes Little and Nick D’Virgilio on drums, Brian Allen and Dave Martin on bass, and Jeff Coffin on sax. Ford is known for his use of sonic space: on “Automobile Blues,” his guitar lines weave and waft betwixt Coffin’s sassy sax on top of a rhythmic bed of pure groove.
On the blues instrumental “The Champion,” Ford unleashes his trademark melodic sensibility against a supportive rhythm section that flows effortlessly. Even with an assist from Casey Wasner on rhythm guitar, the live-in-the-studio feeling never gets cluttered.
“Good Times” – written by Lightnin’ Hopkins’ brother Joel – is well placed at the beginning of the set. It features artistic license with its vocal distortion and heavy reverb. Ford’s use of the Electro-Harmonix POG might turn off blues purists, but Ford takes guff from no man.
This article originally appeared in VG August 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.