Ford jokingly described her new album to Uncut last month as “pagan disco”. There’s more to it than that, of course, but one can see what she means – the folk-country stylings of some of her past work are banished in favour of soulful, shuffling piano-driven grooves. The opening “Azad” – about her unusual childhood on a Canadian commune – sounds more like Brittany Howard than her old band The Be Good Tanyas, while the vibe throughout evokes a rootsy session in Muscle Shoals, spectacularly so on the smouldering title track. Call it an expansion rather than a reinvention – but it’s a dramatic and rather dazzling one.
FRAZEY FORD: “The album was born out of these jam sessions with my rhythm section. So there’s this kind of raw, stripped-back, acoustic-funk vibe. Very groovy and using totally different song structures than I’ve ever done before. And I co-wrote with the guys in the band. I invited my bass player and drummer to just throw me whatever ideas they had. It took me a while to figure out how to approach writing that way, and the guys had never done that with me before, so it was a new experience for all of us – a whole different exploration.
“I’m playing a lot more piano too, so it’s also less folk, for sure. The bass is very forward, the drums are very forward and there’s a lot more guitar. There’s just a new kind of directness, more in-your-face. It’s less soft and even lyrically it’s different. It’s hard to explain, but it’s more fierce. We recorded at Afterlife Studios in Vancouver with John Raham and kept it pretty simple. A good friend of mine, the super-talented Phil Cook, came in and did a whole bunch of beautiful stuff on it too. One track I’m loving right now is ‘Purple’. It’s a dark song, but it’s very groovy. I think it’s about childhood trauma. We’ve been jokingly describing the sound as ‘pagan disco’. One of my favourites is ‘Motherfucker’.”