Frazey Ford has long headed up our list of the best alliteratively named artists, but can now also lay claim to releasing one of the finest (and most unexpected) debut albums of 2010. Familiar to most as the guitarist/vocalist with the much-praised Canadian Americana group The Be Good Tanyas, who parted ways a couple of years ago, Ford released her first solo album earlier this year. The singer surprised a few with the soulful sound of “Obadiah”, an album which clearly was as much in thrall to jazz-soul icons like Donny Hathaway as more obvious alt-country and folk influences.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ford has mined some different sounds now that she’s cut free from the Tanyas’ moniker, since her background is as free-spirited as they come. With parents who quit the US for Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft, Frazey spent time travelling around Asia with her mother and sister in her youth before returning to Canada to form the Be Good Tanyas.
“Obadiah” is a real pleasure for lovers of the soulful work of any number of artists, from the recent purring grooves of Cat Power to the timeless sounds of Roberta Flack. Ford’s voice is deceptively potent, resonating a certain lovelorn warmth that’s hard to resist, while a pinch of Stax soul and the infused elements of country, jazz and gospel make a mixture as soothing as it is sensual. The Brighton Ballroom should make an ideal setting for Ford as she continues to tour in support of an album which has continued to win over new fans by word-of-mouth since its mid-summer release.