Paula Frazer

Leave the Sad Things Behind

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As time has gone on, the putative differences between alt-country and classic country and any further number of subdivisions have all seemed to blend into a haze, creating a zone where souls can pursue their own muses to their hearts' content. Paula Frazer's own work since the end of Tarnation has confirmed this, with Leave the Sad Things Behind being an album that can be heard through any number of contexts -- immediate reference points include Patsy Cline, Lee Hazlewood (the fuzz guitar leading into a brass arrangement starting "No Other" is a killer tip of the hat), even some classic Motown on the uptempo "Funny Things." The trick lies in synthesizing it all into something distinct, a gift that Frazer happily possesses much like her fellow spirits in the Walkabouts -- so when there's a sudden blast of feedback and keening toward the end of "Watercolor Lines" that's more Siouxsie than June Carter, she can turn it around on "It's Not Ordinary" with a performance, touched with just the right amount of echo, that takes a listener back to 1969 just like that. Of her core backing band, Patrick Main might be the secret weapon, thanks to his lovely piano work throughout and other moments like the organ on "Taken," but Frazer's guitar playing is the heart, a gentle lope on "Waiting for You" and a stronger freakout elsewhere. When everything comes together and hits a peak, the result is a pure delight -- the title track, with its steady, hold-your-head-up spirits, being a particular standout.

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