Published Feb 08, 2017Sallie Ford's Soul Sick is a twangy-soul-power pop song cycle about getting over loss and depression. The production and arrangement is gorgeous: drums right on the beat, jangly guitars, occasional organ brightness. So far, so good. Sadly, the songwriting itself doesn't hold up to repeated listening.
"I've got problems / I think everybody's got them / I could share them / But I don't think you want to know" Ford sings; it's a sentiment that might have a place in chit-chat, but as a lyric, it barely skims the surface. It's unfortunately typical of the lyrics on Soul Sick, telling rather than showing Ford's turmoil, reducing complex emotions to their most literal and un-poetic terms.
In addition, Ford's big, expressive voice isn't best served by the melodies. She's often what TV talent show judges call "pitchy," and she attempts a number of runs, quavers and other vocal acrobatics that require a much closer adherence to the key the songs are in to be aesthetically successful.
If the idea of a collaboration between Lucinda Williams and Billy Childish appeals to you, Soul Sick may be to your liking. It offers the impeccable, twangy power-pop aesthetics — but also the oversimplification — of Williams, and the sparkling, immersive production and raw honest lyrics — but also the never quite on key-ness — of the latter. (Vanguard)