The record by relatively new act, Michael Ford Jr. & The Apache Relay, 1988, is a really focused and well performed set of tunes for a band that hasn’t been together for very long. The bio of the band really enhances the overall experience of listening to 1988. When you find that Michael Ford Jr. and The Apache Relay actually started out as separate entities, it’s hard not to really appreciate the way that the album feels like a seamless mix of each band’s styles.
Overall, the sound of the record would be best described as “Country Roots”. That label may sound a bit bland, but when you combine a singer/songwriter with a straight up bluegrass combo, it makes sense. There is a healthy dose of “best of both worlds”-type vibes here. With Ford Jr., you have the soulful sincerity of a solo-performer with some solid songs (mostly about love) to combine with the organic and yes, roots-y, feel of The Apache Relay. The percussion that is employed to a satisfactory effect lends the album a dynamic quality that is often lacking in your more standard and traditional songwriter or bluegrass albums.
Many of the songs on the album fall into the categories of either soft and slow, or they are kicked up a notch and showcase a bit of pep. While my favorite tunes fit squarely into the peppy category (“Sugarcane”, the album’s opening track is my favorite number on the album), it is in the softer set, with songs like “Return & Leave”, “Blue Eyes”, and “Sun Child” that Ford Jr’s vocal is most prominently showcased to expose an emotive quality that compels the listener to really dig-in and listen closely.
About the author: I likes me some wine, women and waffles, not always in that order (but usually). Chaucer is cool, but fart jokes are even better. You feel like spikin' your country with a little soul or mix in a little rock without the roll? Lemme hear from ya!!