Clark Ford – composer, lyricist, and accomplished keyboardist – returns with a full-length album of melodic, contemporary jazz occasionally veering towards delectable dalliances in adjacent genres. And the result, a love story told through 14 captivating tracks, is emotive, soothing, and downright entrancing. Released through Bongo Boy Records and arranged/recorded at Underground Treehouse Studio, Meant To Be is indeed a superlative work. And if you follow me through the highlights, you’ll immediately understand why “superlative” is unquestionably apropos.
Album opener, “I Believe in You,” begins with soft piano and sax – a tasteful jazzy prelude for an incredibly capable female singer (one of many exceptional vocalists recorded for this album). Her voice is rich, effortless, and lilting between lovingly cradled notes. If I was forced to use one descriptor, I would go with “flawless.” And when the song ends on a sustained falsetto? Yep, “flawless.”
Track #2, “Been Waiting for You,” features a talented male singer accompanied by an answering female vocalist as their musical dialog pervades this more upbeat track. This is a pleasant little number promoting an incredibly healthy romantic engagement.
Track #4, “A Dream Come True,” adds a little swing to the mix, filled with subtle strings and perhaps finger-snapping percussion. There are some nice orchestral changes here, and I’m fighting the urge – a very strong urge – to sing, “DOO-WOP, DOOBY-DOO…”
And then, the Blues kicks down the door, and demands you make it dinner. Track #6, “Baby On Board Blues,” starts with some serious Blues licks, and a lyric that immediately explains the song title: “Well I’m a pregnant woman. I got a baby on board.” This is a standard Blues arrangement that cleverly (and comically) conveys the everyday struggles during pregnancy.
Track #8, “Tonight,” returns to that slow, sultry jazz with exemplary male vocals (LOVE his trembling vibrato) and a responsive sax. This is melodic chamomile, and I’m immediately lulled into a comfortable, restful state. In a word, this track is absolutely hypnotizing.
Track #10, “Every Moment,” continues with easy, slumbering jazz, and a gorgeous, note- perfect female vocal. There are crystalline piano arpeggios, slowly brushed percussion, and a quiet, supportive sax. This is beautiful, subtle, and may generate an unexpected tear or two.
And then, we arrive at album closer, “Written in the Stars.” With a strong male vocalist managing a higher vocal register during the chorus – a moment lifted by layered horns – “Written in the Stars” tiptoes into orchestral pop with some serious emotional highs and immediately memorable melodies. Folks, the album couldn’t have concocted a more personal, empowering finale.
If you’re looking for drifting, magical jazz or expertly arranged and performed music that casts a calming spell, Clark Ford’s Meant To Be is easy – but captivating – listening.
BELOW: Listen to Clark Ford and check him out on Spotify and Bongo Boy Records’ Clark Ford artist page. Please support Clark Ford by visiting his website, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music. And, as always, thank you for supporting real music.