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REVIEW: Chelsea Ford & The Trouble - Townsend Road

Photo Cred: Erica Chambers

Folks, I was pretty excited to see a post from Courtney, our fearless editor, asking for CincyMusic writers to check out Chelsea Ford & The Trouble’s new LP, Townsend Road. I’ve heard Chelsea’s songs before and I have heard this band, so I knew they were going to put out something powerful. Indeed they have, with an album of folk songs showcasing the talent of Chelsea Ford’s songwriting and vocal delivery. She can and does shred a pretty mean banjo and plays alongside her husband, collaborator, and bandmate Jon Ford on guitar. Matt Crone joins with the upright bass to create The Trouble. Chelsea also plays guitar on this project and Jon covers a range of guitar tones and some drums when it’s time to rock, too.

When it comes time to put together an album, especially an ambitious one with 14 songs, a band needs a space to get into their zone and put out the best performance they can for the mics. Robert Fugate from Mind Ignition recorded the songs, and when it came time to select a space he suggested a barn used by longtime band Over the Rhine. I asked Chelsea Ford about her recording experience, and her words about it are better than mine would relay for her:

After Robert Fugate recorded our 1st album at Camp Springs Tavern I asked him to keep an eye out for another unique location. He runs sound for the band Over The Rhine (Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler) and while at their property in Martinsville, OH he came up with the idea for us to record in their barn. We visited and loved it. It's beautiful and sounds amazing. We recorded the bulk of it on the weekend of March 7th, 2020. I wrote the 1st song "Ain't This Life" about what I was feeling at the beginning of covid and we recorded it in June of 2020 outside at Robert's house. There are birds after track 1 that are a blend of birds from Robert's house and from outside the barn in Martinsville Ohio. There are also frogs at the end of the album that were recorded on my phone outside the barn. We like to let the location be heard and felt. It was a very inspiring place to record and Karin and Linford were wonderful hosts.

The album’s name, Townsend Road, comes from the location of the barn, which is wonderful tribute to the experience of making music. Okay, so let’s get down to the songs. Chelsea’s description of that barn was one of a peaceful, authentic space, and to my ear that is what I heard in her songs.

 Chelsea’s voice has a rare quality of timelessness, with a maturity both in her sound and her lyrics. There will always be songs about love and loss and everyday life, but that voice singing about coal mining on "Mine These Homes" or the sweet melancholy on “I’m Lost” gave me chills. The Trouble’s sound around Chelsea’s vocals is warm and woody, and with just three and sometimes two people there is still a feeling of being surrounded by the song. There are songs that showcase vocals, and songs that let Jon Ford step up and show off his chops on the guitar, like "Gypsy Blues" or the picking fury he let loose on "Strap Them Boots." Songs go from sad and sparse to pure giddyup with everything in between, all held together with a talented, tight core of musicians having a ball and letting it show.

Jon Ford wrote "Lost and Alone" and "Roll the World Over," and the rest were written by Chelsea Ford. The extras are Kyle Elkins (Bowed bass on "When I Remember"), Pauline Taylor (Violin on "When I Remember," "Lost and Alone," and "Once The Music Stops"), and Joe Macheret ("Fiddle on Mine Our Homes Away" and "Gypsy Blues"). Joe's parts were recorded by Jacob Tippey, everything else was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Robert Fugate from Mind Ignition. I was lucky enough to get a copy already and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Go pick up a copy or download one for yourself, and go show this killer trio some love as they release it to the world!

Come celebrate the release of Chelsea Ford & The Trouble's new album, Townsend Road with special guest Elijah Bedel!

Purchase of ticket includes digital copy of the new album!