PITCHFORK

Frazey Ford - Obadiah 7.1
Sat, 2010-07-17

Frazey Ford !Obadiah (7.1)
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. She
gingerly stretches and reshapes her band's sound to include new styles and genres and to place the weight squarely
on her own carefully observed songwriting.
And yet, even as Ford tiptoes between soft jazz, smoky soul, and austere country, Obadiah is defined as much by
what she doesn't do as by what she actually does. Without the powerhouse voice of Neko Case or Kelly Hogan, she
never belts or hollers, never raises her voice or grasps for high drama. Picking her words apart by the vowels, she
keeps her vocals relatively low, slows her tempos, and soft-sells these songs. Her dried cornhusk of a voice sounds
like she's channeling her interior monologue, even if she's singing from other points of view-- such as the seen-it-all
rogue featured in "Firecracker" or the regretful parent remembering better days on "Lost Together". Even without
her harmonizing Tanyas, Ford proves a sure presence through Obadiah, inhabiting these songs comfortably and
conveying smirking sass as naturally as simmering lust or downhearted regret. "I can't think, I can't use my brain,"
she sings on "I Like You Better", "I can't think no more." It's the album's catchiest hook and a telling moment not
only because she exudes such romantic abandon, but because Ford actually sounds like she singing without thinking.
Producer John Raham calibrates the music to complement but never intrude on Ford's vocals, giving extra weight to
his own drums, which gently nudge along the dusky "Lay Down with You" and her cover of Bob Dylan's "One
More Cup of Coffee". Stax brass builds gently through "If You Gonna Go", gently punctuating her anguished
farewell, and fellow Tanya Trish Klein casually interjects spidery guitar licks to bolster the bluesy come-ons of
"Blue Streak Mama". Ford is studiously avoiding alt-country caricature-- no galloping hoedowns here-- and setting
and sustaining a grave mood throughout album the album. Consequently, the tempos remain rigorously uniform
across these 13 tracks, as though quickening the pace might change the genre or break the spell. It makes for a
warmly moody, albeit strangely static album.
— Stephen M. Deusner, August 3, 2010 http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/14445-obadiah/