Jeffrey Halford may live in the San Francisco area, but his music hails from someplace much further south by southeast. The swampy, foot-stomping rocker “Dead Man’s Hand” kicks off an album that also makes stops in Louisiana, Texas and Memphis.
Halford touches on Hurricane Katrina in two politically charged numbers — the acoustic bluesy “Ninth Ward” and the Fogerty-ish “Louisiana Man” — that surge with anger and outrage. The grittiness of his subject matches up well with his own rough-edged voice and soulful brand of roots rock.
These tunes, moreover, maintain the reputation he has acquired for penning richly detailed tales. So when he tosses off the fun ditty “Rockabilly Bride” and the junkyard blues “Chicken Bones Jones”, they feel like lean character sketches rather than fully fleshed-out stories.
Both of those numbers, however, do provide glimpses into Halford’s enjoyably dark sense of humor. Another good example comes in his latest look at his domestic life. Whereas on his last album Railbirds, he sang adoringly about his young daughter Hannah Rose, here his kids now are “running crazy” through his house.
Perhaps the disc’s best good-timing track is “In A Dream”, a Texas-based tale that not only name-checks Augie Meyers but features the legendary Sir Douglas Quintet organist’s playing. Broken Chord might not be Halford’s breakout album, but it again highlights his strengths as a talented wordsmith with the soul of a rugged roadhouse rocker.