A new arrival on the Americana scene, Tara Beier is a Vancouver-born, LA-based singer-songwriter blending together folk, alternative, country and pop. Hero & The Sage is her debut album following on from a previous single and EP. Although a classically trained pianist, she didn’t actually start writing until a few years back, encouraged by having recreated a Buffy Sainte-Marie performance for an indie docudrama entitled Covered.
Working with a solid set of musicians providing the guitars, rhythm section, banjo, keyboards and accordion, you can understand why she was chosen to channel Saint-Marie when you hear her sing Guns Road with its tribal feel and the keening percussive psychedelic folk of Mayan Sun, the tale of a woman reborn from her darkest hour after her hopes of love are crushed, although listening to the minimal dark acoustic folk blues of Mount Zion, you’ll suspect Zeppelin might be among the box of influences too.
Although bluegrass washes through the breezy banjo-led This Innocence, Summer Rain ripples along as the title suggests and there’s a lightly dappled folk ambience to the fingerpicked title track, the dominant mood here is more earthy, be that on the slow and spare piano blues Freedom Island or the clattering, guitar twang drive of She’s Gone which suggests a turbulent Neil Young spliced with the traditional folk of Martin Carthy.
Only two of the numbers pass the four minute mark, but something like In The Desert with its rumbling drums and resonant guitars shows just what she can do by way of textures and arrangements in a compact playing time, the organ-backed upbeat Cellar Door demonstrating an ear for 70s blues and country infused soul a la Bonnie Raitt and Laura Nyro.
It’s a hugely impressive debut, and, if you get the digital download version, there’s also a bonus track in the form of the folksy-pop brushed drums shuffle Forever Mine. Go seek it out.
Out Now on Red Raven Records
Order via Bandcamp here: redravenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hero-the-sage