Portland based Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside's sophomore album Untamed Beast has some very raw and interesting ingredients. Uncooked with no preservatives (or harmonies) and quite powerful are the vocals of Ms. Ford. Her conservative physical appearance certainly contradict her strong pipes, spicy lyrics, and the provocative album cover.
The core of the album is built off the clarity in Ms. Ford's voice that at times overexpose some of the weaker lyrics. Case in point being tracks 2 thru 4 have some painful lines, such as in "Bad Boys," which oddly repeats "I can fuck and I can drink and I don't care what you think". Another case in point being on the track "Addiction," we hear "Put you out, put you out like a cigarette butt." And on "Party Kids" the repeated lyric of "I know were the party can be found," is a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately there are several very weak tracks that feel very rushed and slapped together that bring down our overall rating of this album. "Lip Boy" could be a good song, we just can’t get past where Ms. Ford belts "Hey there boy don't you give me lip boy, when you give me lip did you give me shit boy". One of the more frustrating parts of this album is that we found ourselves scratching our heads many times wondering where have we heard this or that particular song before. Yes, there are moments where Ms. Ford exudes Apple and Whinehouse mixed in a blender.
But lets focus a bit more on some of the positives here. The Sound Outside for one are a very strong supporting band for Ms. Ford, offering up some Stray Cats meets the Pixies vibe. Unfortunately the production is geared more towards the clarity in Ms. Ford's vocals and the band support does come out muddled on some tracks. There are five very strong and vibrant tracks that we really enjoy worthy of downloading... they include the opener, "They Told Me" once you get past the Fiona filled first line, this is a witty special track with a great guitar rhythm spotlight. "Do Me Right," "Rockability" and "Devil" also grabbed our attention, offering up something more than just building the song around the melody title word. The closing track "Roll Around" which sounds like it was recorded in a hallway features Ms. Ford and acoustic guitar, very cool track that contains some pretty intriguing lyrics.
As mentioned, Ms. Ford has some very interesting ingredients that could mature for the better down the road. Overall Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside seem to have missed the band wagon of potential fame that hit so quickly with the Alabama Shakes. While the southern, rockabilly and blues styles are very similar, 'Untamed Beast' falls flat primarily as a result of its inconsistency. 8/6/2014
Standout Tracks: Roll Around, They Told Me