Frazey Ford is one of those artists you would happily listen to singing the proverbial phone book. You’d be unlikely to make out any of the names or addresses, but her rich voice, clearer in its emotion than its enunciation, would surely make you feel like you knew everyone in there anyway.
But Ford does not use her voice to recite empty words. U Kin B The Sun, her third solo outing and first since 2014’s Indian Ocean, deals in much deeper themes. Six years ago, Ford had teamed up with Al Green’s Hi Rhythm Section to record an album of seductive soulful folk in Memphis. For U Kin B The Sun, Ford stayed at home in Vancouver and worked with local musicians to produce something more stark, more funky, more edgy. The sound is sparse but immersive, Ford’s unique vocals floating over a bed that mixes soul, psychedelia, country and folk.
On this she builds her tales of personal reflection, even if you might occasionally need to strain to make out the details. On ‘The Kids Are Having None of It’ Ford heads into the territory of the protest song, inspired by youthful uprisings against everything from climate change to gun crime and more. “All you deal is fear, the easy way to steal,” Ford sings. “The likes of you should never hold the wheel.” ‘Motherfucker’ is a break-up song every bit as forthright as the title suggests. Opener ‘Azad’ draws on her highly unusual childhood on a Canadian commune as her draft-dodging father hid from the FBI.
The theme that binds together these diverse ideas is one of empowerment. Empowerment through independence, though taking a stand, through not taking anyone else’s crap any longer. It is a message that comes together on the closer and title track – a five-and-a-half minute anthem that caps this powerful personal statement.