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Lyle Ford -- Self Titled: "Lyle Stephen Ford"

Lyle Ford -- "Voice of a Ghost: Live 52nd Ave"

2001 Huckleberry Festival Music Schedule


Self Titled: "Lyle Stephen Ford"
Reviewed By Michael P. Jones

Professional musicians in the Portland Metropolitan Area have paid more dues than people will probably ever know, as they struggle to get somewhere in their career. For over twenty years, the gifted guitarist and vocalist, Lyle Ford, has done his time performing in bands and duos, or just "by his lonesome" up on stage as a solo act.

Ford is a songwriter who puts poetry to music. Some refer to him as a folksinger, while other claim he really touches Country, and still others claim that it's Soft Rock. Call his sound what you will, no one can dispute that he is one of the best around these parts.

The twenty-year career of Ford is being blessed with a CD that should be a must-listen-to. 
If you're in the mood to hear real talent, both in the vocals and songwriting department, you need to give a serious listen to this self-titled creation called "Lyle Stephen Ford".

"Lyle Stephen Ford" is one of those CD's that features simply beautiful songs that you'll want to listen to in any kind of mood. With twelve of the thirteen featured tunes written by Ford, and the thirteenth co-written by Ford and Russ Fast Lyrics, the result is nothing short of great.

Ford, who studied music at Marylhurst College near Lake Oswego, Oregon, clearly has demonstrated his abilities on this CD. Not only can he write some darn good lyrics, but he can also write the appropriate music to go with them.

"Lyle Stephen Ford" should be on your shopping list for birthdays or any special occasion. It's a gift that most everyone can enjoy, for it is quality in every aspect imaginable; from songwriting to the back-up musicians, to studio work and the packaging. No one cut any corners here, and it definitely shows in the final product.

This CD is outstanding! And, the influences of other artists -- like James Taylor, The Eagles, Steely Dan, Don Henley, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jackson Brown, and Elvis Costello -- seep through the tunes featured in this recording project. Ford is accompanied on his CD by a collection of some of the best musicians in the Portland Metropolitan Area. These include Dan Decker on bass and keyboards (who also produced and engineered the project); Gary Ogan, who played the drums and piano, as well as did some of the back-up vocals; Wayne Thompson on the Hammond B-3 and accordion; Ken Brewser and Tom Ellis on electric guitars; Lonnie Turner on bass; Darrin Clendennin on piano; Ron Stephens on pedal steel; Chata Addy on percussion; and back-up vocals by Kelly Vanacker, Tim Lamar, Christopher Morrisette, Mel Kubik, and Doug Fulton. John Purcell contributed to the majority of the arrangements.

"Lyle Stephen Ford" is a Portland project throughout, but not only in respect to the musicians. It was recorded and mixed at Sound Impressions by Dan Decker and John Gates. It was mastered by John Gates at Super Decker Audio, all located in Portland, Oregon. The record company putting out the CD is MDR Records, also of Portland.

The tune "Broken Hearts," written by Ford and Fast Lyrics, is one of my favorites. Its lyrics are beautiful and speaks to depth of trying to get over the break-up of a relationship, and the struggles that one must endure: 

"Broken hearts don't mend completely
They ache a good long time
I wish the past would leave me alone in my sleep
I wish the future was a friend of mine..."

"New Modern Man" is another great song for this CD, and is about our endless pursuits in life that keep us always on the move. Ford's lyrics are near-haunting and easy for one, in this day and age, to identify with: 

"I know this highway like the lines in my face
I'd do this my way if I could stay in one place
But the wheels keep turnin'
And my life's not my own..."

My favorite song, even though this CD is filled with them, is "Exploding Cigar". The piano work by Clendennin is outstanding, which complements the beautiful guitar work by Ellis.

"Goodbye My Heart," along with "Runaway Heart," are tunes you'd expect to hear on the radio. The song sung by Ford and Mel Kubik, "Everybody Here (In This Place)," is also very much worthy of airplay. These have a Top 40 appeal to them yet, the kind of brilliant lyrics that one would expect from a serious songwriter like Ford is always present.

Other noteworthy tunes by Ford that are featured on this CD are "Voice Like a Ghost," which possesses some outstanding poetry-like lyrics, and the beautifully-worded "Sand and Sea Motel." "Devil Misses Heaven" another standout features Ford playing a lone nine-string guitar with backing vocals by Ogan, whose talent really shines throughout this recording project.

"Lyle Stephen Ford" is available at Tower Records in Portland and Beaverton, as well as at all locations of Music Millennium. It is also available at Locals Only.

Or, you can call MDR Records direct at (503) 287-3975. You can also order by mail by writing: MDR Records, 1920 N. Vancouver, Portland, Oregon 97227. The cost is $15 for the CD, or $10 a cassette, with a $3 shipping charge. All major credit cards are welcome.

[SPECIAL PERFORMANCE NOTE: Lyle Ford has performed at the Cascade Geographic Society's 1998 and 1999 "Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival & Barlow Trail Days".]

"Voice of a Ghost: Live 52nd Ave"

Reviewed By Michael P. Jones

Just as one would think that he had faded from sight and sound, the troupadour and wordsmith of all of the Portland Metropolitan Areašs singer-songwriters, has returned with another CD. Yes, Lyle Ford is back just like a ghost, giving us ten original tunes out of the eleven-songs that has been gleaned from his life and times --- as both a struggling musician and a devoted family man --- that are featured on this superb recording project interestingly titled "Voice of A Ghost".

"Voice of A Ghost" is Ford's best work ever. His vocals has never been better --- which is always superb anyway. And, as for his guitar-playing --- which is always great --- is almost magical.
It is said by some that a CD of Ford's is nothing short of  "a captivating gift of song". However, they follow this statement up with: "but listening and watching him live, far outdistances anything he could ever want to do in the studio." In the past that statement might have been true, but with the release of "Voice of A Ghost", Ford's incredible live onstage sound has been captured on this recording. This CD is nothing short of being great.

"Voice of A Ghost" has another thing going for it; it is not engineered to the point that you wouldn't even know that this was the same person if you heard him live. This CD is clearly Ford up onstage, singing and playing his heart out, just like he does in each and every performance of his.
It is difficult to "pinpoint" which song is the best one on "Voice of A Ghost". Ford has provided us with so many great original tunes that it'll be a toss-up deciding which one will take the honors.

"Broken Hearts", co-written by Russ Fast and Ford, is an obvious standout on "Voice of A Ghost". The combination of the music and the vocals, are captivating. The guitar work is superb. And, with the words "I wish the future was an old friend of mine..." the song is haunting. This singer-songwriter's latest CD is not molested by a lot of over-production that can plague, if not destroy, the real showcasing talents of an individual. What you are getting from "Voice of A Ghost" is, thankfully, pure Lyle Ford.

Ford, up on stage all by his lonesome, is a gifted entertainer that has a special charisma with his audiences, and actually creates a unique, not to mention an extremely difficult bond with them, which a lot of singer-songwriters never achieve. "Voice of A Ghost" mimmicks this special live presence, only with this CD he bonds with those within "ear-shot" listening to this great recording.

The eleven songs featured on "Voice of A Ghost" were recorded at Dead Aunt Thelmas's on November 5th and November 28th in 1999 by Mike Moore. It was mixed by Moore and Ford, and mastered by Kevin Nettleingham Audio. James Fenwick Esquire served as the executive producer, while Ford and his wife Lisa were the producers.

For additional information on Ford, please check out his website at www.buko.net/lyleford call him direct at (360) 834-1623. This talented singer-songwriter is available for bookings of all kinds, from clubs to concerts, to private parties and other gatherings. He is a well-known entertainer throughout the Portland Metropolitan Area and beyond, including having been one of the featured performers at the "Great Northwest Music" stage at the Cascade Geographic Society's annual "Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival & Barlow Trail Days".