Sallie Ford's Second Solo Album Finds the Cure for the Existential Blues in Vintage Rock'n'Roll

Though the subject matter might imply a downer, the brawny barroom-blues riffs and sunny surf guitar evoke a far lighter landscape.

Sallie Ford, Soul Sick (Vanguard)

[OLD-TIME ROCK'N'ROLL] Sallie Ford's second offering since parting ways with her Sound Outside dude-ensemble is a meditation on themes of "insecurity, anxiety and depression," according to the raison detrê on her website. You wouldn't really know it by the jocular mood of Ford's inimitable timbre—a brusk tone somewhere between Nellie McKay and Karen O. She still works primarily from a 1950s pallette of rock'n'roll, blues and doo-wop, with the dramatic flair of an AM radio show performer, and though the subject matter might imply a downer, producer Mike Coykendall (She and Him, Bright Eyes) furnishes any lamentations with brawny barroom-blues riffs and sunny surf guitar evocative of a far lighter landscape. The latter half of Soul Sick especially shines due to the standout slow-dance "Unraveling" and the roomy, big-band brass of "Rapid Eyes." Ford's initial existential ailment may have sparked her efforts, but her emotional investment is spirited enough to spin that illness into a lively collection of quintessential, vintage rock'n'roll.

SEE IT: Sallie Ford plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Jenn Champion and Weezy Ford, on Saturday, Feb. 18. 9 pm. $14 advance, $16 day of show. 21+.