Heroes and Heathens (Independent)
“I left home because I only ever wanted to break free,” Christopher Ford sings on “Steady at the Wheel”, the first track off his new Heroes and Heathens EP. But the Vancouver-based songwriter soon learns that it’s hard to fully escape your past. Despite detailing a late-night escape from the family home atop hard-strummed acoustic guitars and a good-’ol-boy backbeat, he cops to dialling his pops up all the time. Structurally, Ford’s repeated refrain of “Call him on the phone, call him on the phone” oddly conjures Phoenix’s Thomas Mars, even though it’s delivered with a twangin’ accent instead of French pop-rock pomp.
While the opener is pleasant enough, the sparseness of the rest of Heroes and Heathens leaves plenty of room for improvement. “Every Good Soldier” tries to play it personal but really just runs by on two chords and clunky aphorisms like “Just like every good soldier, we’ve got to soldier on.” Also eschewing the full-band treatment is “Nothing on Me”, which further rankles with its deliberate stop-start pacing on the intro and some reedy vocal improvisations.
The EP’s bittersweet finale, “The Firebird”, lays out an interesting tale about someone who feels through their fists, not their heart. It also comes with the narrator’s admission that he had to push away someone looking for love. Just like the character in “Steady at the Wheel”, this phoenix does its best to turn its tail and burn out on its own path all alone.