Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Partisan
Genre(s): Alt-Country, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Please don’t let Sallie Ford’s demure appearance and thick-rimmed specs fool you. Though she looks like she belongs either behind the desk of a library or in your grandmother’s canasta game, the Portland-based frontwoman of The Sound Outside is as rough and rollicking as they come and could probably drink you under the table if you’re not careful. This disclaimer could be applied to her 2011 debut album, Dirty Radio, but the print shouldn’t be as fine for her latest effort Untamed Beast, which, as its title indicates, sees Ford’s snarling confidence reaching new heights as she establishes herself as one of music’s most badass frontwomen.
If the Adeles and Jessie Wares of the world sit squarely in the neo-soul category, pleasing broad demographics of listeners with their smooth and sultry vocal tones, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside’s musical time traveling does something entirely different. The band is straight-up rock n’ roll: traditional slapback-reverb guitar licks bolstered by garage-rock percussion. The result is rockabilly crossbred with post-punk, as if Carl Perkins and Jay Reatard teamed up in a sweaty Portland dive bar.
Sallie Ford & The Sound OutsideUntamed Beast(Partisan)Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) Before the Alabama Shakes became the rock ‘n soul outfit with a powerfully dynamic female singer that turned 2012 on its ear, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside got a similar vibe rolling really well in 2011 with Dirty Radio, even if to a smaller amount of fanfare. Now, Ford and her band have increased the quality of their brazen, breathless blend of garage-soul to an even more satisfying level with the new Untamed Beast. Both of Ford’s records proffer engaging freshness, which helps prevent them from wilting under the weight of the “retro” or “vintage” tags.
Sallie Ford is the real deal. With a voice that can belt, soothe, caress, and flat-out spit sass, attitude, and raw street emotion, she sounds like some sort of dream cross between Ella Fitzgerald and Janis Joplin, and her band, which includes Jeffrey Munger on guitar, Tyler Tornfelt on bass, and Ford Tennis on drums, has evolved from the swing rock of the group's debut full-length, 2011's Dirty Radio, into a solid garage rock outfit that snarls, prowls, and shouts right along with her. The album was recorded with Adam Landry and Justin Collins at Jackpot! Studios in the band's hometown of Portland, Oregon, and it sounds and feels like a big step forward for Ford, who, on songs like the raging and rocking "They Told Me," the stubborn and insistent "Party Kids," the jazzy ballad "Shivers," and "Devil," which is full of bad-girl swagger and rockabilly strut, she shakes off her influences and becomes a force all on her own.
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside's 2011 debut, Dirty Radio, was a cabaret-esque mix of rockabilly and old-timey pop that was endearing, albeit with somewhat of a novelty vibe. Untamed Beast is more of the same but with a ratcheted-up rock-and-roll attitude. "Party Kids" is almost punk, with a soulful swagger. "Bad Boys" asserts itself like a filthy Carl Perkins.