David Ford and the suitcase man

I went to the 9:30 Club last night to see English musician David Ford. He was opening for headliner Sara Bareilles, who wasn't due to appear until 10, but the club was pretty full for his appearance at 8:15. His first song, "Go To Hell," started off in layers - something I'd seen done before by a classical musician who looped her cello playing to create a song. "Go To Hell" builds slowly from just a sound into a full song, each instrument (a mini-electronic piano, the guitar, noisemakers) played by Ford. It's kind of mesmerizing. Ford's voice is interesting - I would say it's like listening to Counting Crows if they were backed by Imogen Heap (in this song at least). It risks becoming a gimmick, but Ford pulls it off. Emotive singing, intense lyrics...he had the audience hooked pretty much from the start.

He followed that up with a song featuring Joey Love on the suitcase. Really. Not a new rip-stop vinyl wheelie of course, but an old leather number held in his lap and used to create a resounding thud that kept time.

What I liked most about Ford's music, aside from the sweet and somehow familiar melodies, is the earnest way he approaches his craft. In recent years, emo has tried to corner the market on heartfelt songs, but they tended to fall flat when you really listened to the words. Ford succeeds at the tender, coffee-house, indi, troubador image. When he introduced himself to the crowd he excused himself for not being the type to whip the masses into a frenzy. "I'm British," he said, offering an excuse for his understated approach. Hopefully someone from the CW will pick up one of his tunes for One Tree Hill, and then you'll hear him everywhere.