Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mark Raborn Reviews Rebecca Frazier’s WHEN WE FALL


     Rebecca Frazier’s new CD “When We Fall” features twelve tracks, of which ten are original compositions including three instrumentals.

The project is superbly supported throughout by a strong producer and by a stellar cast of musicians that largely need little introduction, including Ron Block and Scott Vestal on banjo, Barry Bales on bass, Shad Cobb on fiddle, Andy Hall on resonator guitar and husband John Frazier on mandolin. Rebecca plays guitar on all cuts.

My initial observation was to simply admire and enjoy the fidelity of the recording, followed closely by the quality of the arrangements and the overall maturity of the presentation and musicianship. However, after hearing a few cuts I was convinced that Rebecca, in addition to being a superb vocalist and lyricist, is a masterful flat-pick guitar player, playing with a level of imagination, taste and authority that will awe many of her listeners, as well as her peers.

I found the overall tone of this project to have a ‘modern,’ post-Monroe acoustic Bluegrass texture with the occasional influence of cross-cultural Bluegrass genres like Blues and Country interwoven. Without transgressing the artistic boundaries that define modern Bluegrass, Rebecca’s title cut, “When We Fall” sounds like it could easily be transformed to Top 40 Country material. That’s not to say that she should seek Country “hit” status for this composition, but rather an acknowledgement that it is ‘that good’. The overall arrangement, insightful lyrics and the smooth timbre of her voice bring this piece to life and nurture it to maturity. The result is a track that most any female Country music superstar might envy.

Likewise, the more up-tempo “Morning and Night” and “Darken Your Doorway” possess the artsy magic that many listeners identify Image635029222728546463with and look forward to hearing again and again. Both are richly “musical” and interesting, without being overly predictable or exotic. Rebecca’s seemingly-effortless lead vocal work combined with subtle, but beautiful harmony placements, catchy lyrics and tasteful accompaniment make these songs among those that her fans will look forward to hearing over and over.

“Love, Go Away From This House” underscores Rebecca’s songwriting prowess, as well as her vocal range as she ventures into more bluesy fare. The feel is tastefully accented with fills by John Frazier on mandolin, Andy Hall on resonator guitar, Shadd Cobb on fiddle, as well as her impeccable guitar work.

The first instrumental, “Virginia Coastline,” is an upbeat fiddle-tune-like piece that gives Rebecca the opportunity to establish herself with the listener as a serious guitar player. Be assured that she takes full advantage of that opportunity and does not disappoint. If by the time she ends this tune there remains someone unconvinced about the caliber of musician she is, they need only wait until they hear “Clifftop” and “40 Blues” and there should be no doubt.

All three of these original instrumental works are well-supported by Scott Vestal’s always creative and fluid banjo playing, as well as Cobb’s hot fiddle, John Frazier’s fine mandolin rhythm and solos, Hall’s resonator-guitar and Barry Bales’ excellent bass work.

Andy Hall’s powerful resonator guitar intro on the Flatt & Scruggs standard, “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow” sets up a driving rendition that is equally showcases Ron Block’s formidable banjo work and Rebecca’s spot-on vocals and flawless guitar leads.


To have your CD considered for review, contact: Mark Raborn for specific submission and mailing instructions.

As you can probably tell by now I am pretty impressed with this CD. It’s easy to enjoy a project with so many fine characteristics. It is well produced, the supporting musicians are fantastic and the mixing is nothing short of spectacular. That said, I believe Rebecca Frazier could entertain with only a mic, a bar stool and a guitar, so just imagine how good she sounds with this professional ensemble.

This production is my first exposure to Rebecca Frazier and, after thoroughly listening to her work, that fact surprises me. Though her voice has a delicate texture vaguely reminiscent of some of the premier female Bluegrass vocalists of our era, she is no imitator. Rebecca sings with confidence and precision and with a level of heartfelt and soulful artistic poise that draws the listener in and doesn’t let go until she’s finished. She most certainly has the musical depth and intuition to become an important musical stylist in her chosen genre and “When We Fall” illustrates why. Personally, I hope this CD project serves to advance her career and bring the masses to her feet. As a musician, and as a brand new fan, I’ll be waiting to hear what she does for an encore.

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