Colt Ford, (the) Country’s Great Unifier
Colt Ford's life is a hotbed of conflicting ideologies. Musically, he's country and hip-hop. Professionally, he's been both country club and honky tonk. Even his kids don't see eye to eye, except somehow, they do.
Ford's latest album Love Hope Faith pushes forward a sound he originated, but with subtle social commentary. Once again find the former professional golfer at the center of town square, quite literally inviting everyone to be a part of the conversation. Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and Tyler Farr are three country collaborators on the album. Rock band Lit joins Ford, as does pop singer Rizzi Myers. Find R&B's Javier Colon (Season 1 winner of The Voice) and cross-genre newcomer Taylor Ray Holbrook, too. From a lineup perspective, the new album is much like his previous five — a who's who and "Who?" that mashes genres in ways commercial country radio is afraid of.
The 13 songs are edgy ("Dirt Road Disco" and "Bad Day" live on opposite edges) but lyrically, Ford is inclusive. "Reload" is a perfect example. The music video stars Holbrook and Suga Rashad Evans, a mixed martial arts fighter Ford calls a friend.
"You’re talking about three guys from different generations, different upbringings," he explains. "Look, we’re not that different. You look at, ‘Here’s this guy who grew up in the inner city and he’s a fighter, this black guy and here’s this country boy …’ we want the same things. He wants the same thing for his kids that I want for my kids."
"Young Americans" (With Charles and Josh Kelley) is a universal blast of nostalgia. "No Rest" (with Javier Colon) finds similar appeal discussing the anxiety of chasing a dream. Through speakers we hear no color, agenda or discontent, and that's the point.
“The whole thing with the political and all that, we’re not that far apart," Ford says. "We’re making it into something that it’s not.” This is really the only time he hints at his political persuasion.
The "4 Lane Gone" singer and "Dirt Road Anthem" co-writer tells Taste of Country about his daughter, a 22-year-old liberal, and son, a 17-year-old, 100 percent diehard republican who refused to visit a college because he felt they leaned too far left. Ford stands somewhere in the middle.
"I want them to make their own decisions," he says without revealing much about where he stands personally. "I just want them to be informed about what those decisions are. I got zero problem with you feeling that way, but I need to know why you feel that way."
A song called "Lookin for a Handout" sounds political but isn't, even though it features country's best social commentator, Brad Paisley. It's actually a love song that has Paisley on vocals and guitar.
"It's funny, both him and a song I did with Keith Urban on the last record, they're both like, 'You care if I play (guitar) on it?'
'Nah, man. Go ahead and knock yourself out if you wanna throw a pass or two on it. Maybe we'll use it.'"
Of course Ford's tongue was placed firmly in cheek as he recreated this story. On this album he's removing it and make a statement about love and community. There's nothing preachy — just honest truths Americans need to be reminded of during times of great discontent. More than any of his previous albums, Love Hope Faith is an album for the moment.
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