Frazey Ford really is the most adorable person on the stage tonight at the Hotel Cafe, switching guitars and playing back and forth with her band, bass, drums, banjo, harmonica (courtesy of the almost as adorable Trish Klein). The feeling is one of mellow, almost countryish sadness, a little Mazzy Star, a lot of late 60s and early 70s soul. A few songs are without drums at all, most amble along barely above a living pulse, but the songs are strong and sweet and hopeful and, still, melancholy. The audience sways, smiles. The vibe is peaceful.
Frazey has a red feathered hat and turquoise pants. She admits her banter is a little off. She seems tired, spacey, but her sweet smile conveys all she needs as she comes onstage alone initially, just her and her guitar. Over the course of the next 45 minutes or so, she and the three members of her band shuffle through the majority of their new album Obadiah, out on Nettwerk. The songs transfer to the live setting beautifully. The interplay between the members is tight and concise, and yet open, breathing easily. They’re having a good time, tired as they may be, and so we do as well.
After a few sad songs from the album, “Firecracker” and the very sexy “Blue Streak Mama” amongst them, they decide to go with a happy song and do just that, covering Otis Redding’s “Happy Song.” The 70s R&B influence on her music hasn’t been lost on us, of course, but this is the first overt mention of it, and coming back out for an encore of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” just confirms it. Coming from the folky leanings of her first band the Be Good Tanyas, anybody expecting a strummy Canadian (her country of origin- Vancouver to be precise) folk stomp would have been disappointed, but only briefly. These songs, as stated, are strong on their own, simple but deceptively so, with that tender thread of sadness running through to tie them together with the heart of anyone listening.
Any complaints? Minor ones. Sometimes Frazey has a tendency to swallow some words, and her folkstrewn-cum-soulful delivery can easily get lost on the uninitiated ear. And of course, she was obviously pretty tired, so there’s that. Of course, there’s always the argument that words are overrated, but we write songs to say something, so of course people want to understand what’s being communicated. However, a minor quibble, the music being so gently beautiful the point gets across regardless.
Definitely recommended, Frazey Ford and the new album Obadiah are well worth investigating if you’re looking for a little late night accompaniment that can take you either up or down, depending on where you need to be.