Colt Ford - Chicken & Biscuits
By: Matt Bjorke
When Colt Ford released his debut album Ride Through The Country in 2008 even he couldn’t have predicted that the record would sell 150,000 copies without the benefit of a hit single. Add the fact that Colt Ford makes country music with ‘rapped’ verses and the Ride album was an even harder sell. Music row labels wouldn’t touch it so Colt released on his own co-owned label Average Joes Entertainment. Slowly but surely through the end of 2008 and 2009 the album grew legs on the grassroots level with Colt Ford selling out show after show all over the south. How did he do it? By tapping into an audience that has been waiting for an artist like Colt Ford to come along and mix their favorite types of music into a cohesive country/rock/hip-hop hybrid.
With a couple of live and odds and ends albums selling an additional 50,000 copies or so as well, Colt Ford is now moving on to his second full-length album with Chicken & Biscuits. Whereas “Ride” featured John Michael Montgomery and Jamey Johnson on a couple of tracks, Chicken and Biscuits’s guest list includes James Otto, Randy Houser, Ira Dean (Trick Pony), Darryl Worley, Joe Nichols, and Kevin Fowler. It’s like a who’s who of modern country music and it’s not hard to get the sense that there are many more in Nashville who would’ve loved to sing a hook on a song if some labels weren’t still hesitant about his existence. It seems that this has played out to an extent as Colt Ford’s radio version of the lead single and title track doesn’t feature James Otto. Instead Rhean Boyer, the lead singer of Carolina Rain (and a solo artist in his own right), gets to sing the chorus. The verses may be spoken but they are as catchy as anything that is currently played on country radio and the production from Jayson Chance is actually as country as anything on mainstream country music radio, if not moreso as steel guitar (Gary Morse) and fiddles (Rob Hajacos) are front and center on much of the song. “Hey Y’all” is a hard-rockin’ summertime party song which features Randy Houser on the chorus. It’s not as accessible as “Chicken & Biscuits” but it’s still ready for the right playlist.
Josh Gracin is the guest on “All About Ya’ll” and it’s a song that finds Colt talking verses that describe why guys do the things that they do, which Josh sings it’s the way the whole world revolves, it’s all about ya’ll.” The production is once-again southern rock mixed with mainstream country music with audible banjos and fiddles leading the way. “Tool Timer” was co-written by singer Marcel and with his strong ability to mix lyrics and country melodies together the song may be one of the best tracks on CD and reminds me of Marcel’s own spoken/sung songs that he had out on Mercury Records about seven years ago. It’s a song that rivals the title track as one of the best on Chicken & Biscuits.
Some of the more hip-hop influenced track on the record include “Nothing In Particular,” “Cricket On The Line” and “Ride On, Ride Out.” Featuring Rhett Akins (who co-wrote the track with Colt and producers Phive Starr),”Cricket” is one of the song that features one of Fords better ‘raps’ and the production is infectious and I can see where this track will make for a fun one live while “Ride On, Ride Out” is a flat-out fun rock/rap track featuring DMC of Run DMC. It’s interesting and while some country fans may not like it, there will be many who do as most country fans listen to more than just country these days.
Colt revives the 1975 CW McCall hit “Convoy” and brings the classic Trucker anthem into a modern era and while there’s really nothing wrong with the track here, the song feels a little out of place on the record. Joe Nichols has one of the countriest voices in country music so it might surprise some people that he’d join Colt Ford on “She Ain’t Too Good For That,” but if one actually took a look at Joe’s hits, they’d see that he fits right in here on one of the better tracks on the record. Kevin Fowler guests on “Hip Hop In A Honky Tonk” and this Thom Shepherd/Lisa Shaffer tune is quite a fun little tune that any country music fan really can relate to, particularly if they don’t like ‘hip hop.’ With Fowler’s sarcastic musical past, he was the perfect choice to sing the hook on this playful track that, in a perfect world, would find a home on country radio. “Country Kids” is another song which could find a home on country radio if given the chance and newcomer Rachel Farley is a vocalist to keep an eye on, as she really sells this song with her sweet country twang singing the chorus.
Like he did with Ride Through The Country Colt Ford has tapped into something unique and that is the exact reason why he’s sold as many albums he has the past couple of years. In an era when artists are selling less and less, Colt is striking a chord with audiences everywhere and he serves them 16 more tasty tracks that are sure to keep Chicken & Biscuits on the minds of people everywhere.