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Album Review

Frazey Ford, 'Obadiah'

July 26, 2010

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As the former lead singer of the Canadian folk-pop trio the Be Good Tanyas, Frazey Ford turned out some quietly affecting performances. But they’re demure delights compared to the heady pleasures of her debut solo album. Like Jolie Holland, who also previously played in the Tanyas, Ford proves she’s a hypnotic singer-songwriter in her own right. “Obadiah’’ is the archetypal sleeper: Its burnished songs — an unlikely marriage of plainspoken folk and blue-eyed-soul — wash over you on a cursory listen, start to percolate the second time around, and finally burrow deep into your brain. It’s a luxuriant album that unfurls with acoustic guitar, hushed drums, banjo, organ, and little swells of strings; but it’s anchored by the whims of Ford’s voice, an ethereal instrument that flickers with traces of Beth Gibbons and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Ford livens the mood with the light funk of “Blue Streak Mama,’’ but mostly “Obadiah’’ trades on her pensive meditations on motherhood and relationships. “Lost Together,’’ the story of a mother reflecting on her life, conjures Kate Wolf’s gift for turning a simple country song into poetry. Its chorus breaks your heart with just a single image: “Makin’ love and makin’ more beautiful babies.’’ (Out now)

JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Lost Together’’