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A Place Where I Know - 4-Track Songs (1992-2002)

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Album Review

Perhaps the only thing more surprising than how perennially overlooked Paula Frazer's songwriting has been is just how consistently great it has been over the years. A Place Where I Know: 4-Track Songs 1992-2002 is an intimate audio sketchbook that also functions nearly as well as a greatest-hits collection, gathering most of the highlights from her two Tarnation albums, Gentle Creatures and Mirador, as well as her first album under her own name, Indoor Universe. As gorgeous as those albums are, their slightly fussy productions occasionally detract from Frazer's songwriting, and surround her remarkable voice with arrangements that sometimes compete with it instead of compliment it. Here, it's just that voice, her guitar, some overdubs, and the songs. Unlike many artists, Frazer has a good sense of her strongest work, and A Place Where I Know begins with three of her best songs: Indoor Universe's reflective, regretful "The Only One," a beautifully spare version of Gentle Creatures' "Halfway to Madness," and Mirador's "An Awful Shade of Blue," on which Frazer's vocalizing sounds like the wind blowing through the trees. Her music has always been ethereal, but the lack of drums and soft blanket of bedroom-studio hiss that covers it here makes it even more so. The collection divides its time fairly evenly between Indoor Universe and Mirador, with only Gentle Creatures being somewhat under-represented. The great versions of the songs that are here whet the appetite for demo versions of songs like "Big O Motel," "The Well," and "Yellow Birds." However, the previously unreleased tracks make up for some of the songs that are missing. "Long Ago" is dark, slow, and sad like a good portion of Frazer's work, but slightly less theatrical lyrically in the way it depicts lost love. "Taken," meanwhile, has a hopeful dreaminess to it that recalls her cover of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jetplane." While most of the songs here bear at least a passing resemblance to their final studio versions, the demos of "The Hand" and "A Place Where I Know" are claustrophobic instead of epic, offering a kind of lo-fi, spaghetti Western goth that is compellingly creepy. The collection also includes videos of three of Frazer's bedroom demos, the peerless "Game of Broken Hearts," "Watercolor," and "Always on My Mind." A unique collection from a unique talent, A Place Where I Know doesn't just remind you of how fresh Frazer's music still sounds, it also makes you want to hear more new material from her.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

There aren't many American singers possessed of a fine country twang who are actually from the Deep South, and who would specifically name Australian Nick Cave as the main influence on their work. But such is the case for the talented Paula Frazer, who far from being any sort of clone also brings the same wide range of influences to bear on her own work, from punk and blues to cabaret and gospel, for her own striking musical visions. Raised in both Georgia and Arkansas, her musical influences readily...
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A Place Where I Know - 4-Track Songs (1992-2002), Paula Frazer
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