REVIEW: Ian Cal-Ford – Wood & Wire (Cattytown Records CDR710)

Ian Cal-Ford's recently released CD ‘Wood & Wire’ is a superb collection of acoustic Roots and country music.

Ian, from Newgale, has made a name for himself, either playing flat out rockabilly or its near relation Johnny Cash style, Sun Records era country music with his former bands The Brakemen and The Railmen.

No surprise really as his father, the late Cal Ford, was known as “the Welsh Johnny Cash”. Ian’s musical odyssey has taken him all over the world, he’s played the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and recorded one of his albums, ‘Strapped For Cash’, in Memphis.

However, one of the notions Ian has harboured for some time has been to record an album of his favourite tunes in a sparse, stripped back acoustic fashion.

A firm believer that “less is more” is not a cliché, it’s a truism, he assembled his Acoustic Preachers (Dave Luke on mandolin and backing vocals) plus Carl Beddis (on upright bass and backing vocals) and took them into StudiOwz where together with engineer and producer Owain Fleetwood Jenkins they laid down this marvellous album.

No frills. No fills. Just thrills. Fourteen tracks of vibrant and lovingly crafted acoustic roots music. Ian’s vocals and guitar work have never sounded better.

He’s got a sympathetic duo playing alongside him. You’re unlikely to hear a finer country tinged album any time soon.

Inevitably there are tracks on the album by Cash, ‘Loading Coal’ being most impressive, not least because of the connection between the experiences of miners and their families in the US and Wales.

There are also tracks steeped in blues (‘Milkcow Blues’), singer/songwriter (Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Cold On The Shoulder’), classic country (Hank Williams’ ‘House of Gold’), and bluegrass (‘Walls of Time by Pete Rowan with whom Ian toured Europe earlier this year).

Ian would be the first to admit he’s not a songwriter. It’s as an interpreter that he excels. Check him out.

The evocative photos on the album cover were taken at Burnett’s Hill Chapel, Martletwy by Rory Pearce.

BB Skone