For 10 years now, Frazey Ford has been harmonizing sweetly and trading verses with the two other members of the Be Good Tanyas, whose easygoing vocals and rustic folk-pop have made them mainstays on Vancouver's music scene. In going solo, she's carving out her own niche while proving that she can anchor a full album on her own. Perhaps because she has taken the step of recording under her own name, or perhaps because like all new solo artists she has something to prove, the slow-burn Obadiah sounds more ambitious than her work with the Tanyas.
Canadian singer/songwriter Frazey Ford is best known as one-third of the folk group the Be Good Tanyas, and she comes from a family steeped in the French Canadian folk music tradition, so where the hell did all the R&B influences overflowing from her solo debut, Obadiah, come from? Apparently, Ford's love of soul music is a longstanding, deep-seated one, but it wasn't until she finally stepped out of the gravitational pull of the Be Good Tanyas for a moment that she was able to pursue that direction. You'd scarcely guess that Ford had such an extensive folkie CV -- much less Canadian folkie -- from listening to Obadiah. The inspiration of Hi Records-style ‘70s soul (Ann Peebles, Al Green, Syl Johnson) comes through loud and clear, but this isn't some slavishly imitative neo-soul outing either.
Obadiah refers to the shortest book in the Bible consisting of 21 verses, named after a minor Hebrew prophet whose prophesies foretell the destruction of Edom, a town which took part in chasing the Israelites from Israel. There are some serious political implications to choosing a title with such weight, but, this being pop music, a name doesn’t always necessarily reflect the immediate social and political beliefs of the singer. Most often, an album title is a symbolic reflection of a variety of themes that spring forth from the collection of songs.
RICK ROSS “Teflon Don” (Maybach Music/Slip-N-Slide/Def Jam) That someone would revive the memory of MC Hammer’s glory days and use it as an enthusiastic metaphor for modern-day rap excess was inevitable. That it would happen on an album that also samples a Bobby Seale speech is unexpected. That the rapper who’s pulled this off, and successfully at that, is Rick Ross is one of the great unlikely hip-hop success stories of the past decade.
Frazey Ford’s first solo album away from Canadian vocal group Be Good Tanyas continues down her band’s rootsy path while taking a side trip to Soulville. We’re not talking blasting Stax horns and dancing-in-the-streets arrangements; instead, think of a Gillian Welch disc that’s more infatuated with Memphis than mountain music. Ford’s distinctive quavering smoky vocals remain the centerpiece, although here she favors a candlelit saloon croon instead of the Be Good’s campfire folkiness.