Tarnation’s Return

Tarnation is/was one of those bands that, like so many other great bands, never received any significant amount of exposure.

Thank God I still retain a modicum of the French I spent 6 years or so learning. Otherwise, I probably would have completely disregarded this blog entry titled simply, and tantalizingly, ​“Le retour de Tarnation.” Which, in English, translates as ​“The Return of Tarnation”. Which is good news in any language.

Tarnation is/​was one of those bands that, like so many other great bands, never received any significant amount of exposure. But those who knew Tarnation loved their music fiercely. And how could you not, with its sepia-tinged tales of regret and heartache, delivered in appropriately heartbreaking style by one Paula Frazer (who has released several excellent solo records).

Some folks labelled Tarnation the second coming of Patsy Cline, due in large part to Frazer’s voice, which has the same sort of rustic, aching timbre. While Tarnation was obviously influenced by classic country and Americana, there was a deeper darkness to their music, like something out of a Flannery O’Connor story.

Anyways, it’s been almost a decade since Tarnation’s last record, Mirador, but if the aforementioned blog is correct, then Frazer has reformed the band. And they will be releasing their new album, August’s Song, on Birdman Records sometime this fall.

So enough with this, on with the music. Well, you have a couple options. The above blog entry has links to several MP3s, including one song (“First Sign”) from the upcoming Tarnation album — which, naturally, makes me want to crawl into the nearest bottle of whiskey and cry my eyes out.

Also, Frazer recently recorded a session for CNet’s Studio C, and being the tech-savvy folks that they are, the entire session is available as a podcast. Frazer talks about the Tarnation reformation and the problems with touring, answers some questions about technology (it is CNet after all), her weaving skills, and performs several songs live in the studio. Which, of course, sound lovely. (If her voice on ​“Watercolor Lines” doesn’t make you shed a tear or two within the song’s first 10 seconds, then there’s no hope for you.)