Pop: This Week's Album Releases

T-MODEL FORD You Better Keep Still: Fat Possum
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The Independent Culture
I KNOW precious little about T-Model Ford except that he's quite old, quite black, and by the sound of it, quite fond of a drink. Judging by the cover shot of this, his second album, and the explanatory sleeve quote lifted from the pulp-noir novelist Jim Thompson, he's not a man to be messed with, either: if T-Model tells you You Better Keep Still, then I'd imagine you might not move for a while, for fear of not moving for a much longer while.

Mercifully, such prohibitions are not really a consideration on You Better Keep Still, the best of the latest batch of releases from Fat Possum Records, the Mississippi-based home for distressed bluesfolk. Raw and hairy, it barrels along like a runaway train, sweeping the listener up as it rides roughshod over polite blues conventions, eyes blearily fixed upon the next drink, dance or dalliance. And the best way T-Model knows to get happy is to lose himself in the hypnotic throb of something like "To the Left To the Right", a minimalist, shamanic expression of pure exhilaration. "Here Comes Papa" is similar in approach, a primal grind that just rolls over and over, a bulldozer of blues.

It's not all full-on minimalist boogie here, though: Ford has a nice line in laid-back blues-raps such as "We Don't Understand", a gentle JJ Cale-style sway supporting a semi-audible story. In his quieter moods Ford can be just as gripping, as in "Look What All You Got", a strange, cyclical blues in the Lightnin' Hopkins style with a metre and direction all its own - at times, it sounds as if even T-Model himself isn't sure where it's going, or if it's going to end at all.

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