TARA BEIER – California 1970 (Red Raven)

California 1970The title, California 1970, pretty much tells you where this is coming from musically and lyrically, as the Canadian singer-songwriter and classically trained pianist (not to mention documentary filmmaker and actress) casts an eye over L.A. life through the prism of soft folk-pop filtered through Wurlitzer, pedal steel, guitars and piano.

A mini-album follow-up to 2016’s Hero & The Sage, it kicks off with a simple fingerpicked acoustic intro to ‘Forever Mine’ before musically opening out into a catchy uptempo shuffle about growing up and growing apart but still being connected.

The near six-minute’ Wild China Tree’, the longest number she’s recorded to date, shows a rockier side with the psychedelic vibe of its circling guitar line that carries with its echoes of Buffalo Springfield, the title track even rockier driven by a thumping tribal drum beat with fierce guitars building to a rowdy, violin assaulted climax with lyrics about a delusional, mentally unstable life-weary woman’s struggle to find the truth between reality and romantic fantasy.

Sandwiched in-between is the synth-backed ready to love again dreaminess of ‘See The Owl’, the final stretch beginning with ‘Prize Winner’, simple piano notes underpinning the lusher surrounding arrangement while ‘Hollywood Angel’ is a tumbling slice of cascading Wurltizer Stevie Nicks-like Americana pop. It ends with the chugging guitar riff of ‘Diana’, another rock-informed song written about a runaway she met while living in the Valley.

If, at times, her vocals and phrasing call Buffy Sainte-Marie to mind, that’s undoubtedly down to the fact that she’s one of her biggest influences, to the extent that Beier actually played her in her most recent film project, Covered, but as this collection evidences, Beier clearly has a voice of her own, one that deserves to be heard on a far wider basis.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.tarabeiermusic.com

‘Hollywood Angel’ – official video: