Frazey Ford

Obadiah

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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. Ford's unique vocal style, which mates a kittenish curl with a warm warble suggesting a lower-key, distaff cousin of Antony Hegarty, isn't exactly the sort of thing you'd hear on a playlist bookended by Macy Gray and Jill Scott. If anything, Ford comes off more like the female equivalent of early Martin Sexton, when he was using the acoustic singer/songwriter format to pursue his own love of sinuous, sexy, early-‘70s R&B. There's a laid-back, late-night vibe maintained throughout Obadiah, as Ford unleashes her moody croon over slow to midtempo tunes colored by piano, organ, and Tanyas member Trish Klein's guitar work and powered by mellow but funky, slow-rolling grooves. Admittedly, there are a few spots on the album where Ford's folkier inclinations peek out, like the lambent, country-tinged "Hey Little Mama" and "Goin' Over," and a cover of Bob Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee," but for the most part, anyone coming to Obadiah with the hopes of exploring more Tanyas territory is in for a soul-slathered surprise.

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