With his imposing physique, larger than life personality, and outrageous videos, it could be easy to lose something important in Colt Ford’s ample shadow: the music. But make no mistake, Colt Ford is a musician. A natural drummer, he is as comfortable laying down a beat as he is in front of the mic, singing and talking honestly about the country life he and his devoted audiences have in common.
And while some may consider the Academy of Country Music Award nominee’s style of rhythmic sing-speak to be rural rap, what Colt does has been a part of country music for ages. It’s in Hank Williams Sr.’s “Kaw-Liga,” and in his recitations recorded as Luke the Drifter. It’s in the story songs of Johnny Cash. The double-talking jive of Jerry Reed. The wild wordplay of Charlie Daniels. And in Jason Aldean’s swerving hit single “Dirt Road Anthem”—a song co-written and originally recorded by Colt.
Like his heroes before him, the Athens, Georgia, native is the real deal. “Recitation and talking records were here long before me, and they’ll be here long after me,” he says. “I’m a country artist and I want people to know how much I genuinely respect this music and my fans.”
That respect for the genre is evident throughout his latest album, Every Chance I Get, a tight collection of backwoods boogies and rebel yells. There is even a sentimental ballad or two. “This is the best combination of everything that Colt Ford is capable of doing on one record,” he says. “I think I’ve grown a ton as an artist and as a songwriter since my last record, Chicken And Biscuits. But I am still conscious of who my fans are and who I am.”
And who is he exactly? Colt is, in part, a tireless worker, a passionate performer, a devoted father—and a man not afraid to reveal his love for his daughter in the heartfelt “She Wants to Ride in Trucks” or tout his country pride in first single “Country Thang.” The latter boasts a defiant vocal by Eric Church, while “Ride in Trucks” features Craig Morgan, carrying on a guest-vocalist tradition started on Colt’s debut album, Ride Through the Country.
Luke Bryan handles the infectious chorus on “Work It Out,” a light hearted recounting of the daily domestic challenges facing husband and wife. Josh Thompson anchors the slinking, swampy “Do It with My Eyes Closed.” The legendary Charlie Daniels champions the working class in “Overworked & Underpaid.” And superstar Tim McGraw lends his famous voice to the album’s final track and crown jewel, “Twisted.”
A cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for, the soaring cinematic epic tells the story of a small-town high-school football star who is afforded the chance to play for UCLA and leave behind the family farm. But success, as Tim sings, can leave someone feeling “Twisted.”
“It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. It’s like a real life story for me,” says Colt, who envisions the song as this fall’s football anthem. “It’s about a rural kid, and every day is the same for him: chores, school and practice. But he watches TV, like a lot of country kids, and thinks, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Ferrari and live in L.A.?’ Well, maybe. But you might get out there and find it isn’t nearly as cool as you thought it was.”
The message, Colt says, appealed to Tim: “He just loved the song and is on the record because of that. I have a huge amount of respect for him, and it’s a real honour to have him sing on it.”
Still, Colt can hold his own just fine, thank you very much. He is especially proud of his vocal on Every Chance I Get’s rock-and-roll title track. “I said to my producer, I don’t want to get anybody else to sing this one. Let me do this song. And now we open our show with it,” he says. “I wanted to show that, hey, I’m not a one-trick pony.”
Nor is he simply, as he’s sometimes considered, “a badass redneck.” “Oh, I’m that too,” he laughs. “But I’m also an emotional guy.” And his big heart is very much on display in “She Wants to Ride in Trucks,” about Colt’s daughter replacing her dad with a boyfriend as she begins to date. “That song is very personal. It chokes me up. Every record should have something adventurous like that, something that makes you go, ‘Wow, I didn’t know he could do that.’ There are certain songs that need to be on a record because they are important. If you think you have 12 singles on a record, you need to rethink and redo something, because that means you didn’t do anything outside the box.”
Every Chance I Get, produced by Shannon “Fat Shan” Houchins and Colt’s bandleader Jayson Chance, has many such surprising moments, along with the honesty and authenticity that Colt’s audiences have come to expect.
“The reason my fans come out to my shows is because they appreciate that I’m talking honestly about their lives. I’m just like they are. When I get offstage, I don’t go eat tofu and drink wine—that’s not who I am,” he says, before pausing to testify once again to the power of the song.
“It’s all about the music, man. The songs come first, and everything else is second. And because of that, I think this is the strongest record I’ve ever made.”