Even in light of the uniform brilliance of Rose Melberg's past work with Tiger Trap and the Softies, her solo debut is still revelatory -- never before has her voice been so disarmingly honest and vulnerable as it is on these starkly beautiful single sides, studio demos, and home recordings. Despite its patchwork origins, Portola is remarkably consistent, split evenly between original material and cover songs, it distills Melberg's distinctive vision to its purest form. Backed primarily by only her acoustic guitar, hers is music of rare warmth and generosity, regardless of whether she's singing a heartbreaking original like "Golden Gate Bridge" or delivering a touching rendition of the Buck Owens chestnut "Loose Talk." Clocking in at under a half-hour but without a wasted moment, Portola is a small miracle.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny