Bearing witness to the careful blooming of Weezy Ford’s musical identity has been fun. Evolving from the snarling, rockabilly understudy of her big sister Sallie, Weezy Ford has carved out an autonomous, though no-less-rollicking figure of rock ’n’ roll abandon.
On her sophomore album, Sugarcane, Ford zeroes in on wanderlust for inspiration, with ghosts of yé-yé rebels punctuating her already explosive take on garage rock. The specters haunt the record from the outset, with the fittingly titled “YeYe” skittering through a spooky intro festooned by keys, slide electric guitar, and finally, a lovely little verse progression that’s perfect for Ford’s delicate singing. Here and later on Sugarcane, the reconciliation of Ford’s sugar-sweet vocals and razor-sharp songwriting offer a satisfying volley for her reverb-drenched rockers. Her voice is never pushed beyond the mix, but instead surfaces in angelic whispers, cooing the crux of the song over dirty, rhythmic bedrock.
The warmth of the record is indebted in part to the custom, all-analog recording gear used by Ford and multi-instrumentalist/engineer/producer Mark Robertson (Harlowe, Green Hills Alone). It’s a crisp, full-bodied affair that lays the perfect foundation for Ford’s ululating timbre on scintillating tracks like “Ridin’,” a song ready-made for road-trip revelry.
Tracks like “God Out West” and “Don’t Let It All Hang Out” feel like roadhouse anthems in a hitchhiker flick, raucous and seething even when they’re driven by Ford’s saccharine yelps. The latter is the most furrow-browed moment on the record, utilizing driving, distorted bass, keys, and splashy percussion in a song that advocates female empowerment.
The title track is a love tune to Robertson, with whom Ford has been romantically involved for some time. The song’s sonic patinas resonate like kisses on a mirror, leaving the residue of its unabashed gooey sentiment on every note.
Another standout is “Pools of Dreams.” The song leans more into a post-punk synthscape, with deep space flutters accentuating a dreamy Mazzy Star chorus from Ford, singing, “Washed myself of my fears/Washed away all of those years.”
There is a profound sense of artistic and spiritual liberation throughout Sugarcane; Ford’s talents for recognizing them and using them to her advantage make for an engaging follow-up to her debut EP.