Singer-songwriter Frazey Ford's debut solo album Obadiah has been met with surprise by fans and critics. A juxtaposition of early 70s Neil Young folk and soulful Al Green arrangements, it is a far cry from the country-bluegrass tunes she became synonymous with in the Canadian trio, The Be Good Tanyas.

Vancouver-based Ford is amused by reaction to her so-called musical shift because not only did she grow up on soul and gospel, she's always favoured folk over country.

"It was ironic for me that I became known in a genre that was perceived as country. I was into folk but not particularly country," she says.

"I always loved The Be Good Tanyas and what we did, but there was always a different side to me that wanted to do soul stuff and some different arrangements."

After years of endless touring, Ford says making Obadiah has helped her reconnect not only with music but those closest to her.

"I had always been part of a real musical community but then I stepped into a position where I was performing all the time and I didn't have a community anymore. After moving to Vancouver I became focused on my neighbours and those around me and also just trying to remember how to play - just the joy of it."

When Ford finally made it into the studio she brought along her friends and family, which accounts for the warmth that runs through the 13-track album.

"It was an easy, pleasurable process and I'm glad people are getting what I'm saying and the vibe I'm getting across."

As for the sadness underpinning many of the songs, Ford admits they're largely autobiographical and says they have helped her grieve.

"I've been through a lot of things in the last couple of years, with my family, and this was my process of letting go. When you really get down to the bottom of anything really intense and really go there, it ultimately allows you a lot of joy," she says.

Frazey Ford's debut album, Obadiah, is out now.