Obadiah exposes a more soulful side of Frazey Ford.
Obadiah exposes a more soulful side of Frazey Ford. Brad Horn/NPR
As a member of the band The Be Good Tanyas, Frazey Ford carved out a place for herself in the small world of alternative folk. That group has since disbanded, but Ford has gone solo and just released an album titled Obadiah. The record still contains a healthy dose of folk revivalism, but it also exposes a more soulful side of the singer-songwriter.
Obadiah is an introspective album. It arrives after a period in which Ford stopped writing any songs at all.
"It was a ... sort of ego breakdown where I had to figure out what I was, aside from being an artist and a musician," Ford tells Guy Raz, host of NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. "[I] wasn't sure what I was going to do next. It was kind of strange, because I sort of let go of everything. And then, after that, in that sort of space or silence, these songs started to appear."
Writing the album helped Ford realize that she still had a primal relationship with writing. She, along with co-producer and drummer John Raham, helped cultivate that soul sound on the record.
"We love soul music, I love soul production," she says. "I've always loved Al Green, Ann Peebles. And that was a part of my musicality that was not so much a part of The Be Good Tanyas, so it was exciting to take this project in both directions simultaneously."
Ford says The Be Good Tanyas started out of the band members' shared curiosity for old blues, gospel and country music.
"That was the foundation of the band, and that was always reflected in the sound," she says. "So when you're working in the band, it's not all about you. It's all about what you have in common. So, yeah, there were some definite limitations to that sound — for me anyway — but I love that sound. It's just not the full spectrum of what I love to do."
Ford was also profoundly affected by becoming a parent. She says her new role has helped her write from other perspectives, and has influenced the themes she explores in her music. Critics have even called Obadiah a feminist album, though she says that wasn't a conscious decision.
"When I thought I about it, I guess it is [a feminist album]," she says. "Just being a woman and having experiences — I think there's a lot of subjects that are not written about. And I think that's one of the things I enjoyed: exploring the concepts that are relevant to my life in terms of motherhood and generations."