Frazey Ford At Whelan’s – Review
Frazey Ford was in fierce fine form last Friday evening at Whelan’s. Touring her 2014 release, Indian Ocean, the ex-Be Good Tanyas frontwoman ensured a subtle swing to the evening’s revelry, serving up sweet folk infused with delicious helpings of country and soul.
Frazey’s voice is central to her sound, the measured music moves around her vocals surrounding the syllables she sings in her distinctive accent. The band are dynamically responsive to her singing and convey a light touch musically, suitably restrained arrangements abound especially on opening track, ‘You’re Not Free’. The lazy rhythm is dictated by Ford strumming an acoustic softly, light and loose, drums dropping a restrained beat as big bass holds the bottom, a backing singer accompanying as well makes for a reserved verse and a huge chorus. Although lacking the power of the album version’s horn section screaming at the finish, the audience erupt at the conclusion, not noticing. With some seated and others standing, Whelan’s is brimming, the audience arrived and ready to listen, willing to ‘Shhhhh’ anyone sharing hurried words between songs. Frazey sings sweetly and speaks softer still and silence is ensured by some diligent crowd controllers.
Speaking warmly about her roots, it’s apparent how important family is for Ford and how her relationships inform her musical expression and lyrical content. Anecdotes about her ‘hippy parents’ precede ‘Ootischenia’, a beautiful track from her Be Good Tanyas days, drums shuffling a little quicker, backing vocals shining, whilst ‘One More Cup of Coffee’ by Dylan gets a great response. Ford jokes about her father’s reverence for the folk legend when she was growing up; in her house Bob was God, remarking with wry humour, ‘you return to the religion with which you were raised eventually’.
Described as a ‘bitch anthem’, the sparse arrangement of ‘Done’ has a swagger in its walk, strength summoned by the lyrics, passionate in their delivery. ‘Do you really take me for a goddamn fool? Cause I’m done’, words tumble and fall from Ford’s mouth, her style of singing solely her own, her phrasing unique, an underlying dominance in the subtle and often serene dynamic. A rousing rendition of ‘When Doves Cry’ elicits a massive reaction from all present at the end, Frazey stating her admiration for Prince, and with ‘Indian Ocean’, ethereal and dreamlike closing out the set, Ford’s voice excels surrounded by spacious and delayed lead guitar.
Amidst rapturous applause Frazey Ford exited the stage smiling.