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Paula Frazer 

Leave the Sad Things Behind

Wednesday, Oct 5 2005
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Melancholia comes easier to some than others -- but like most any state of mind, it's what one does with it that counts. S.F.'s Paula Frazer (who fronted altcountry locals Tarnation in the '90s) channels lingering, heart-rending images and stories into evocative songs, virtual minisoundtracks. Her third solo disc, Leave the Sad Things Behind, is a refinement of the "western noir" (or "goth country") of her earlier work. Here we find muted, almost martial drums; ominous electric twang recalling the spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone; the distant, lonely wail of steel guitar; elegantly forlorn melodies; and Frazer's very pretty, dignified, Patsy Cline-on-the-prairie vocals. What's new is the fuzz-tone guitar, the mariachi-via-Burt Bacharach horn section, the assertive, optimistic vocal tone of the rolling "No Other," and the jaunty piano and gauzy harmonies of the Velvet Underground-like "It's Not Ordinary." Belle & Sebastian would kill for the animated "Funny Things," with its one-two punch of a chiming '60s folk-rock melody and a chirpy, boy/girl "ba-ba-ba" chorus. Frazer's Sad Things panoramas will not only commiserate with your gloom, they might even comfort you -- a bit.

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Mark Keresman

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