Fabled former lead guitarist for the Black Crowes, Marc Ford is commonly claimed to be one of the most gifted, and in-demand rock guitarists of his generation. In addition to fronting many of his own bands, he has been a session guitarist for the likes of Govt. Mule, Ben Harper and many others. He has also produced the work of acclaimed acts from Ryan Bingham to Phantom Limb.
Ford began his musical career back in the late 1980s with the blues-rock outfit Burning Tree. Although the band was a commercial failure, it was a critical success and toured extensively in the early 1990s. The band’s career was cut short in 1992 when Ford left to join the Black Crowes, whom Burning Tree had opened for on its first tour.
Addiction issues forced him to leave Black Crowes in the autumn of 1997, after which he formed a string of bands, and also toured as a session guitarist with a number of acts. 2006 saw him return to the Black Crowes for their reunion tour, he also hooked up with his Burning Tree bandmates for a few live shows, before returning to his solo career.
2012 saw him producing the second album by English country-soul talents Phantom Limb, after which Ford asked the band’s Stew Jackson to return the favour. He says “One day it just dawned on me, wait a minute, Phantom Limb is the perfect band for this. I said ‘Stew, you allowed me to pull your baby apart and put it back together. I’ve never had a producer produce my own stuff. How about payback? You can do me now. I think I have some of the best songs I’ve ever written, and you’ve got a bitchin’ band.’ He just said ‘Get here.’”
The result of this relationship is ‘Holy Ghost’, which also drew in not only Jackson’s fellow Phantom Limb members, but also Ford’s wife Kirsten who contributes vocals, and his son Elijah, who’s been working with Jackson on his own album project, who adds guitars.
Bluesy, mellow and fronted by fittingly gravelly vocals, ‘Holy Ghost’ offers an authentic Americana sound, despite being recorded between Wales and Bath.
Beautifully multi-layered, the tracks manage to emit an epic quality while still feeling intimate and personal. It’s the reflection of an artist that has fought back both personally and professionally. Ford says of its sound “it’s hopeful, in a dark way sometimes…It’s a reflection of my life.”
Swinging between more upbeat tracks and more reflective, melancholy moments such as ‘Call me Faithful’, in which he sings ‘I could take back all of the sorrow – that was seen because of me – I would give you a new tomorrow – as the man that I hope to be’. This is Ford expressing himself as only a musician knows how.
‘Holy Ghost’ deserves to be a huge hit for Ford. It’s open and honest, I’m sure at times brutally so for him. He hasn’t held back in the message, and it’s a message of a man ready to turn things around. ‘Holy Ghost’ is catharsis, and testament to Ford’s obvious talent.