From Porn Star to Music Star

Listening to Colton Ford’s latest CD, The Way I Am, (his third full-length album), there is no doubt the ex-porn star can sing. Ford displays his range and diverse musical stylings on this enjoyable and eclectic album, which is now available on iTunes.

“I’m totally a crooner,” the singer said in an interview earlier this year about his new CD, adding, “ encompasses all of my musical styles. I’m rooted in R&B, funk, house, electronica, a little jazz, and some pop—all of the genres that speak to me. This album is a culmination of the 30 years I’ve been in the music business.”

The singer hits and holds some high notes starting with the opening track “First in Line (Shadow of the Night).” He closes his album by exposing his soulful side on “All My Love” and “Alone” (both co-written with his childhood friend Ron Schrader). These two jazz-y compositions sound like adult contemporary R&B songs, and may even prompt listeners to close their eyes and fantasize about Ford. In between, the singer focuses on his strong suit--dance and electronica--tracks that will likely prompt folks to head to the dance floor.

The singer observes, ”I think that the two ballads, ‘Alone’ and ‘All My Love,’ give additional dimension to the record, making it broader musically.” He paused and admits, “This album was supposed to be out a year ago, but if this album came out then, I wouldn’t have the track ‘Alone.’”

The best tunes on The Way I Am are the ear candy ones. Listeners will feel the energy and enjoyment Ford projects in his upbeat songs. When he asks the musical question, “Can You Feel It,” it is hard not to answer a resounding Yes! And  “Realize,” arguably the best song on the CD, is an infectious tune-- “Pop, but with a California vibe,” Ford enthuses--that features a catchy “yeah, yeah, yeah” in the background and an especially throbbing backbeat.

The single “Let Me Live Again” and the track “Look My Way” are terrific dance anthems that should get extended play at the next White Party. “Look My Way” in particular, features a driving drum-and-bass and layered lyrics. Ford’s voice just soars when he sings, “Because there’s nowhere to run/You’ll be falling in love/With just one look/I can give you everything that you desire.” It’s irresistibly seductive.

Not surprisingly, several tracks seem engineered specifically for the dance floor. Ford invites listeners to groove along to “Get To You,” (featuring Ultra Naté), which he admitted, “Is a Gap Band/Dazz Band inspired track,” as well as “Change (You’re Gonna Have To)” and “The Music Always Gets You Back.” These songs show Ford has rhythm (as if there was any doubt), and he matches his phrasing to the syncopated beats to juice the words and give them extra emphasis.

Ford claims to listen to a diverse group of musicians himself, ranging from Rufus and Chaka Khan, to Al Green, Luther Vandross and Olivia Newton-John. “Yes, I am a gay man!” he declares with gusto.

What comes across most on The Way I Am is that Ford likes to play with his instrument that is his voice. He shifts his register in songs like “Let Me Live Again,” and “Look My Way,” among other tracks, but he may be best when he sings in deeper tones. Both “The Music Always Gets You Back,” and “Alone”-- the album’s longest song--benefit from Ford maintaining a consistent vocal range, even when the dance tune changes up its melody.

Ford justifies his musical choices when he says, “I think the theme underneath this whole album is you’re getting something you’re not expecting. That’s not to say that those people who have been following my music wouldn’t expect this, but part of the impact of my past and putting out this music is unexpected, and more serious.”

He continued, “I try and go into writing sessions open, and let the track and moment guide me. Usually I start tapping into a melody and lyrics pop through, but sometimes I'll go in with an idea of what I want to say, and let it develop from there. Lyrically, some songs reflect my experiences; others are just my observations or reflect my perspective or view of things—putting myself in someone else's shoes. Others come from my imagination. The styles range accordingly.”

Curiously, two songs that switch things up are perhaps the weakest tracks on the album. The aforementioned ballad “All My Love” and his title track, “Just the Way I Am” suggest that Ford is trying too hard, and struggling to find his groove. “All My Love” sounds cheesy when it bridges, and “Just the Way I Am” mixes a disco beat with something like an accordion? Both songs sound too busy and overproduced.

But these misfires fail to detract much from an otherwise worthwhile album. The Way I Am is Ford putting himself out there in every track. His intent may be to show (or perhaps prove?) his musical chops and ability to mix musical genres. The diversity is welcome, and there is much to admire on this CD. And while Ford manages his versatility well, his strategy suggests he is trying to please all his fans. As a result, this may have the unintended effect of listeners testing the whole album and purchasing just the tracks they desire.


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