What Is and Was

by Paula Frazer and Tarnation

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about

Paula Frazer hasn’t put out an album in 10 years. This 8th release has been in production for 5 years. Her full current lineup, active for nearly 3 years, appears on just 2 songs. One may ask, how does it come to pass that such a breathtaking singing voice is allowed to languish in obscurity like this? When you consider the impeccable quality of her music, the ethereal purity of her voice, the string of near perfect records she released every couple years since the early ’90s (under both her name and the Tarnation monicker) … How does this happen?

According to Paula, it’s a combination of bad timing, a general lack of interest from record labels, resulting in no deadlines, and the Napster related downfall of music sales … Who really knows? Not to say she hasn’t been hard at work all these years, but by her own admission, she hasn’t had a real touring band since the late ’90s, at least not for more than a year at a time – that is, until recently.

Anyone lucky enough to catch the current lineup of Tarnation performing live gets to enjoy a startling combination of musical personalities. Their sets usually consist of one half Paula’s songs, while the remainder are written and sung by Jacob Aranda, and the combination may stir up emotions you didn’t know you had. Paula and Jacob alternate lead vocal duties song per song, accompanying each other’s grave and gentle yearnings with perfect, understated harmonies and instrumentation, reinforced by Sam Berman’s steady drumming and the lush pedal steel guitar of virtuosic David Cuetter (Big Still, That Hideous Strength). You will hear all 4 play together on this record’s tracks “In Some Time” and “People Say,” and also on Aranda’s upcoming LP recorded last summer by the very same quartet.

The rest of the new album features several of Paula’s longtime musical collaborators: Patrick Main and Justin Frahm on keyboards, 4 other drummers, and backing vocals by Elisa Randazzo, Amy Fowler, and Greg of The Moore Brothers. A half dozen other stalwart Bay Area musical entities appear, all adding to the gorgeous lush sound herein. For those unfamiliar with Paula and her music, the question may arise: “Where does this unearthly beautiful sound come from?”

credits

released June 30, 2017

All songs written by Paula Frazer - Tarnation Music Publishing, BMI

Recorded in San Francisco at Ellsworth Analog, El Studio, Nigel's place

Engineers: Nigel Pavao, Desmond Shea, Paula Frazer, Jay Bronzini
Mastered by Alex Oropeza at Obscura Digital
Produced by Nigel Pavao, Desmond Shea and Paula Frazer
Mixed by Nigel Pavao at Discrete and Studio C at Hyde Street Audio

Photos by Paula Frazer, Olivier Riquelme, Lyn Gaza, Christine Shields, Jay Blakesburg, Amy Blaschke, Greg Dubrow, Robert Tachoiresv vv
Design: John Borruso

Special Thanks to Tom Richardson and Discrete at Hyde Street, Phil Manley, Kelley Stoltz

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Track Name: Between the Lines
Motor boats along the green and words get in the way
If you read between the lines what would you say
What would you say

Full on summer in full bloom
Taking a trip to the moon
To the moon

You've been here by me but there's something I can't say
I'm afraid to spoil the fun since words get in the way
Words get in the way

Running through woods pine smells so sweet
Pine combs falling at my feet
At my feet

Such a heavenly glow on a summer afternoon
On a summer afternoon
Track Name: What Is and Was
Listen to your heart beat, it's here to remind you
It's here to defy you and leave you in the dark
A prisoner of your own mind, not all that is gold shines
But it's just a fine line between hate and love

Forget the lessons you have learned
Forget the bridges that have burned
And all the reasons that may be wrong or right
They're with you day and night just because what is and was

Listen to the night song, it's playing all the night long
A song you cannot hide from, it's with you in your dreams
It will surely find you and it will surely blind you
From any fair reasoning
Except the beating of your heart

Forget the lessons you have learned
Forget the bridges that have burned
And all the reasons that may be wrong or right
They're with you day and night just because what is and was
Track Name: Golden
Everywhere that you know
Everywhere that you go there are you are
Then you turned and walked away
Leaving behind your lucky start

Is it all what it seemed
Crazy schemes in a submarine
Was it time to crash your plans
By setting out for a troubled land

When the fire in the sky
Didn't burn and you wondered why
You planned to ride upon the flames
But didn't chance it to give your best

So it will find you in a dream
Nights, disco lights and a video screen
Where the real is never seen
And wasting time at the cost of your dreams

Look at the sun it's a golden silence
Look at the sun as it rises before us
It tells us to follow
It tells us of tomorrow
Track Name: In Some Time
In some time it'll be alright
Those are the things that we left behind
In the know with no place to go
Looking back now I think I always knew

It was a Thursday you were on my mind
I should have seen it coming there were so many signs
But there's no reasoning with a heart that's left behind

Time moves slow and all through the day
I don't know my mind or what to say
I let you go in my mind anyway
Try to pick the pieces up along the way

It was a Friday when you broke my heart
I should have seen it coming right from the start
But there's no reasoning with a heart that's left behind
Track Name: Followed You There
So you've gone, gone, gone to the dark side and thrown it all away
Searching for elusive tomorrow you can't live for today
Careless vagabond always goin' but never stays runnin' from memories
Wherever you go your heart will surely know
The memories followed you there
The memories followed you there

Out on the sidewalks, in the streets where no one knows your name
Knowing no one that you meet it's safer there from blame
Careless vagabond passing by like a ghost runnin' from memories
Given time your heart will surely find
The memories followed you there
The memories followed you there

So you've gone, gone, gone to the dark side and thrown it all away
Searching for elusive tomorrow you can't live for today
Track Name: Like a River
Like a winding river calling to me
Disguised as a mystery together we'll see

Forgive night and winter and the flowers will grow
We roll like a river forget all that we've known

We could flow like a river and it's all I will know
My heart falls with the water in the evening glow
Track Name: To the Ocean
What are the colors of the roses that sleep
When will they tell us the secrets they keep
We went to the ocean on down by the sea
We wandered through the darkest night hoping you'd follow me

In shades of red and golden light
This is the place where the skies will meet
We went to the ocean on down by the sea
We wandered through the stillest night hoping you'd follow me

We set in motion writing letters in the sand
Something tells me I must take your hand
And go to the ocean on down by the sea
We passed through the darkest hours hoping you'd follow me
Follow me
Track Name: Western Star
Western star in the sky
Can't be wrong but it's not right
To wait so long in this silence
Where the dust has gone and stayed too long

In this room words were broken
Damaging the truth lies were spoken
To feel so wrong in this silence
Where the dust has gone and stayed too long

You ask why, plead beg bargain
In the silence of your eyes words were spoken
To wait so long in this silence
Where the dust has gone and stayed too long
Track Name: North Wind
Living in the moment like a picture frozen in time
Walking down the same hills I climb
It's all been done before, that's how the story goes
Fading in the sun

I came back to this city even though it let me down
That's how the north wind blows
We're just fooling around with this town
Fading in the sun

Sure didn't give you time to change your mind
You know how people just come and go
Keeping to the road that travels to the sea
Fading into just a memory
Track Name: People Say
People say it will end with a broken heart
Yes I knew it was true from the start
But the flowers were blooming and the trees softly swayed
Until the falling leaves had come and gone

Through the night and the wind was so cruel
In the fields of a deep winter moon
I fell into a trance by the mistakes I'd made
And the words were never told

Through the night the winds blowing cold
Over city lights the skies burning gold
Burning gold

With the passing of time, what lessons learned
What goes down when the tables have turned
What treasures lost, what treasures earned
What could have been was never known
What could have been was never known
Track Name: Distant Star
Do you believe in a cold distant star
Do you belong where you know that you are
We began on a road very far

Do you see in the cold of the night
When you see back to where you once were
Then you know that's all that you are

On a hill on a cold winter night
There's a bird takes to wing and it flies
There are lights flashing in a glass jar

Can you see through the fire in your soul
It's a fire only you will know
It takes you where ever you go

Do you believe in a cold distant star
Do you belong where you know that you are
We began on a road very far
Track Name: Find My Heart
No one sees no one knows as the breeze softly blows
And says to me don't ya know come with me and we go
All the while I'm with you in my heart falling true
As the moon swims and sways in the harmony so fine

So fine
Find my heart
So fine
Find my heart

It doesn't matter if the skies turn grey
In the meadow it's summer every day

So fine
Find my heart
So fine
Find my heart

Wait a while we'll find a way see your smile all the day
You can't say it's not so Hunter's Moon sailing low

In the sky
Find my heart
So fine
Find my heart