On Tara Beier's new six-song EP, California 1970, the title gives hints to her retro indie rock and folk styling.
Beier produced California 1970 at legendary L.A. studio The Village Recorder, joined by guitarist Adam Zimmon (Iggy Pop, Shakira), drummer Tripp Beam (Moby), bassist Eliot Lorango (Sea Wolf), and keyboardist Sasha Smith (Ariana Grande, Linda Perry). Additional sessions were held at former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum’s studio.
Read EP review on Stories Behind The Songs
1. Fools Paradise 2:56
2.Prize Winner 4:21
3. Hollywood Angel 4:44
4. See The Owl 4:19
5. Wild China Tree 5:44
6. Diana 3:08
Singer-Songwriter: Tara Beier
Guitar: Adam Zimmon
Drums: Tripp Beam
Keys: Sasha Smith
Bass: Elliot Lorango
Violin: Paul Cartwright
BG: Natasha Pasternak, Mike Green
Producer: Tara Beier
The Village Studios, Los Angeles
Matt Sorum/Drac Studios Los Angeles
Sound Mixer: David Hermistan, Toronto
Mastering: Jeff Fedge, Toronto
Published by: Red Raven Records, Kobalt
On California 1970, Beier deftly displayed the full range of her influences, including traditional folk, blues, classic rock and psychedelia. She has fused them all into a stunning 25 minutes that firmly establishes a powerful new voice within the alt-folk scene.
Beier’s primary focus was to serve the songs through simplicity, as she explains.
“I definitely wanted each song to sound unique while maintaining a consistent feel throughout the EP. Balance is key. I was also adamant about using real human musicians and not software for beats and sounds. It was an honour to get some of the best session players in L.A. for this project, and I tried to give them freedom to express themselves. The whole process was magical in a lot of ways, and with me being fairly new to producing, they really got me where I wanted to go.”
Not surprisingly, the songs on Tara Beier reflect, on the whole, her recent time living in L.A., using the city as a conduit for some deeply personal themes. Opening track “Fool’s Paradise” sets the bar high with its taut, slow-burning message of seeking the truth exploding by the end into a soaring, string-led chorus. For these traits and others, the song was chosen for the EP’s first video shot at Zorthian Ranch, one of L.A.’s most cherished artist-friendly locations.
“Ready To Love” follows, showing Beier’s songwriting in its purist form as it delves deeply into the nature of relationships. Layers of different keyboard sounds build to accentuate her vocal, which somehow simultaneously conveys innocence and experience. The bright, chiming “Hollywood Angel” may be the EP’s most overt “L.A. track,” and not just because it was written in Topanga Canyon. Drawing from the grief over the passing of a close friend, Beier transforms it into a song of hope to which anyone, anywhere can relate.
On a more sonic level, “Wild China Tree” pays tribute to L.A.’s psychedelic legacy, from the Sunset Strip scene of the ‘60s to the ‘80s Paisley Underground. Its chorus of “We gotta love a bit better” pretty much says it all, while also giving a nod to two of its main inspirations, the cult singer Rodriguez and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.
The EP’s heaviest track—both musically and lyrically—“Diana” shifts gears, painting a stark portrait of a teenage runaway all too common seen on the streets of L.A. However, its inclusion is the necessary evidence that without darkness there can be no light. That light is provided on closing track “Prize Winner,” a bittersweet ballad about coming to terms with the past and learning how to grow from it. Concluding with the words, “I am enough... just to be alive,” the song is a message of strength and solidarity to all, no matter what situation they are in. For Beier, the drive to accomplish her goals comes directly from the struggles her family had to overcome.
No further proof of that is needed than what Tara Beier has achieved with California 1970. It is the sound of an artist whose time has come, and a collection of songs destined to be the cornerstone of a body of work sure to swell in the not so distant future.
- Written by Jason Schneider