Sallie Ford can kick your ass, and she’s not afraid to say so.
On her new album with backing band The Sound Outside, Untamed Beast, Ford unleashes a hailstorm of fearless, shit-talking blues. Album opener “They Told Me” sets the tone with lyrics like “Never gonna apologize for being so intense / How the hell would that make any sense / They told me to get over it / Hell I’m not ashamed of what’s inside of me.” Buoyed by The Sound Outside’s simmering, raunchy blues, she belts the rebellious words like a manifesto.
Ford maintains that sense of defiance throughout Untamed Beast, and nowhere to greater effect than on the eyebrow-raising “Bad Boys.” Lines like “I can fuck / I can drink / I don’t care what you think / You could say I’m just a girl / But I’ve had a lady or two / I bet she’d prefer me to you” are simultaneously incendiary and hilarious, and the listener can be thankful they’re not the ones at the business end of Ford’s verbal onslaughts.
In the hands of a lesser artist, all that smack would come across as mere posturing. But Ford’s powerful voice lends her words a weight that’s difficult to dismiss while simultaneously recalling the best moments from bands like Alabama Shakes and San Diego’s own Grand Ole Party.
The barbed lyrics might be Untamed Beast‘s most apparent element, but they’re just the battering ram that pave the way for The Sound Outside’s real attack. “Addicted” whips up a flurry of tremolo-picked guitar and stomping percussion, “Party Kids” adds dashes of bent-note surf rock to the mix, the jaunty guitar licks of “Do Me Right” provide the perfect counterpoint to Ford’s playful imagery, and the rip-roaring “Devil” sounds like a barroom brawl spilled out onto the streets and through your speakers.
Untamed Beast overflows with raucous moments, but Ford’s no one-trick pony. She wisely fills out the album with some low-key, introspective numbers as well. “Shivers” finds the singer enthralled by a prospective lover, “Paris” is an aloof kiss-off (“You’re like a parasite / I can’t save you man / You can only save yourself / Just like I can only save myself”), and the romantic final track “Roll Around” strips down both its sound and Ford’s defenses, laying her emotions bare for all to see. It’s a spine-tingling way to end an album and, in its own way, just as flooring as fight-pickers like “Bad Boys” and “They Told Me.”
You can experience Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside in person on April 7, when they open for the also-awesome Thao and the Get Down Stay Down at the Casbah. Get your tickets here. If you don’t, you’ll have to answer to Sallie Ford.