Five years after the release of her sophomore album Indian Ocean, Vancouver-based soul artist Frazey Ford has announced her upcoming third album, U Kin B the Sun, arriving February 7, 2020 on Arts & Crafts–fueled by a personal revolution in writing.
From the lead single “Azad” and its fluttering beat, a couple of things jump out. You can feel the same rich emotional core at the heart of Ford’s work, but it leans even further into the deep, groove-oriented atmosphere of Indian Ocean. Ford attributes that to the growing influence of bassist Darren Parris and drummer Leon Power.
“I was excited to let go of control and to see where Darren’s bass lines would take my melodies,” she says. “There’s this intimacy that exists within the band now, and I wanted to explore how that would feel in the writing process.”
It taps into something that’s always been central to her musical life. She fronted an Al Green cover band in her early 20’s, and has always felt a pull toward that sound.
“My mom is from an Irish/Cajun/Acadian background, and I sang with her from the time I was little, but I was always really into soul and funk,” Ford says.
Lyrically, U Kin B the Sun grew out of a shift in her thinking about herself as a storyteller.
“I used to speak more in metaphors, but this album came out in a much more raw and direct way,” Ford says. “I’d say that’s a result of being more in my body and more in touch with the wholeness of anger, with taking up space and having boundaries.”
From that well comes “Azad,” a story of Ford’s uncommon early childhood, which she spent in a Canadian commune as a child of American draft-dodgers. It’s a story of survival, and as she explained in a Facebook post, it’s named for her sister.
“She was born with a third eye birthmark and hence my hippie parents gave her a Sanskrit name. Azad Lotus Blythe Ford is the wildest human I’ve known.”
“Azad” comes on the heels of another single from the record, “The Kids Are Having None of It,” in which Ford confronts the challenging political climate head-on, armed with her newfound frankness and a darkly funky feel.
“I used to really live in an ether, and that’s part of why I became an artist: because it was a survival space for me to exist in,” she says. “But as I’ve changed over the last year or two, I feel like I’m more in my body. I think there’s something about being more physically present that impacted the making of this album.”
You can stream “Azad” and “The Kids Are Having None of It” now and preorder U Kin B the Sun from Ford’s website.