Frazey Ford: Obadiah (Nettwerk/Shock)

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Frazey Ford: If You Gonna Go
Frazey Ford: Obadiah (Nettwerk/Shock)

Ford was one of the key voices in the Be Good Tanyas, but since they have disbanded she is now out on her own with this debut solo album -- and quite some quiet piece of work it is.

Things really start to grip a few tracks in when you identify the idiom: despite the banjo on the lead-off track Firecracker, this is no recreation of backwoods "authenticity" and the warm trumpet on Bird of Paradise (the third track in) alerts you to the clever, discreet arrangements which you increasingly start paying attention to.

There is low organ, vibes and marimba, electric guitars . . . and then you identify the subtle Otis Redding influence (If You Gonna Go with soulful horns), the almost avant-pop angularity (Blue Streak Mama), the slow blues-folk ballad over moonlight guitar (Lost Together with a strings and sensitive lyric which is her forte) . . .

On Hey Little Mama she reflects on the hard times of a mother ("did you think this would be the hardest thing you ever did") and elsewhere she calls for a drink to make herself immune to the pains of the world.

Throughout are hints at early acoustic Neil Young and Bob Dylan (she covers his One More Cup of Coffee, the coiling melody of which suits her voice perfectly), but she also takes the Be Good Tanyas as her starting point for a journey into deep reflection, vocals which quiver with emotion and are recorded clean and up-close, and the refined melodies just come sliding out.

This is a real grower which just keeps giving up its nuances on every new hearing. 

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