Friday, 8 October 2010

Frazey Ford - Obadiah REVIEW

Frazey FordObadiah

"Obadiah"is the début solo album from Canadian singer songwriter Frazey Ford. Once a member of Appalachian styled country song smiths The Be Good Tanyas she's now reinvented her sound to a smoother relaxed soul tinged flavour reminiscent of After The Gold rush/Harvest Era Neil Young (heard especially in the albums opener “Firecracker”) mixed with the best of southern soul.

Where as the Joni Mitchell comparisons are easy to make when describing Fords light vocals (especially when listening to the 3rd track “Bird Of Paradise”) I would personally think of her more as a anti folk Ronnie Spector or even Dolly Parton as her tones and vowels quivers under the arrangements at the end of the phase.

The album is a slow burner that works very well as a whole piece with other stand out tracks including the modern R&B flavoured “Blue Streak Mama” which flows without the typical synths and lazy drum machine beats you would come to expect from the lacklustre hits coming under the “soul” bracket at the moment. “Obadiah” is a mixed collections of styles that stop at each road across the map of American music, from country to soul to rock to folk. “Lost Together” is framed in a Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris arrangement with the vocals snaking around each other that resolve perfectly on each chorus.

“Hey Little Mama” is another stand-out of the album that points the spotlight on Fords singing with minimal backing including brush played drums used to great effect. Other numbers on the second half of the 13 strong list include “Half In” and the UN-gospelly “The Gospel Song”. “Half In” with its “Time Out Of Mind” atmosphere and double bass anchoring the slow rhythm as the Hammond Organ weaves in and out the vocals with great results.

The obligatory Bob Dylan cover actually fits perfectly as a bookend to the songs included here. Her version of “One More Cup Of Coffee” although faithful to the original doesn't really bring anything new to the table (unlike The White Stripes version) if anything it gives the second half of the album an added boost from a songwriter of Dylan's pedigree.

"Obadiah" ends with “Mimi Song” a slow ballad which speaks of redemption and acceptance of someone leaving something precious behind (a child? A love? Another time?) Like John Martyn's arguably best work “Solid Air” “Obadiah” is a album best heard late at night and when it finishes you almost wake back into reality like a hypnotized stooge after being in another place for the last 60+ mins. A keeper and one to be troubling the best albums list's of this year.

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