Paula Frazer and Tarnation

Now It's Time (Birdman)

After some fine discs on her own, S.F. songstress Paula Frazer revives the name/concept Tarnation — alt-country locals who released two fine albums in the '90s, Gentle Creatures and Mirador, with Frazer as the sole constant and principal songwriter. While her post-Tarnation albums mixed stark balladry, yearning folk/country strains, and smidgens of power-pop, Time harkens back to the American Gothic of Creatures. Frazer's singing remains rich with that haunted/angelic, high-lonesome timbre, capable of conjuring images of windswept streets at twilight or an isolated house on a hillside. Drawing upon Bay Area compatriots from Oranger, Kelley Stoltz Band, and the Moore Brothers, she frames her tales of amour and loss with distant tinkling piano; spare, slowly strummed acoustic guitar; subtly swelling strings; sighing pedal steel, and muted drums, evoking country music without sounding outright country (a la Americana-gloom icon Lee Hazlewood and S.F. expat Richard Buckner). Now It's Time is a lovely, doleful listen, its main downside a lack of variety in mood and tempo. But if you can't find friends to commiserate in a seriously bummed happenstance, Time'll be good company. — Mark Keresman

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