Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run: From Shredding to Plaintive Ballads, in a Single Bound
Hit & Run is the name of Rebecca Frazier's band, but it could also serve as a capsule summation of her flatpicking style--which scads of reviewers have described with some version of the same comment: "The lady can flat-out shred a guitar."
Coincidentally, that ability helped her make Bluegrass history, as the first female ever to appear on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. And the band members are no slouches, either. Hailed by a critic as "world-class acoustic artists," Hit & Run hit the record books themselves with the only back-to-back wins at the Rockygrass Band Competition and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
Rebecca has been honing her talent for quite a spell. She received her first guitar--a Yamaha Dreadnought--for Christmas at age 12, and by age 13 she was a song leader at the Shenandoah Valley Girls Camp, writing songs and teaching melodies to fellow campers. "We'd sing three-part harmonies," she recalls, "as we washed our hair in the ice-cold Cowpasture River."
“I’m very much inspired by music from the 1970’s,” Frazier says. “Early Bonnie Raitt; old-school Tony Rice and Dave Grisman Quintet; Neil Young. All this music just feels like home to me.”
That vibe also has a lot in common with the group's newest CD, "When We Fall." All original material with the exception of the Neil Young cover "Human Highway," the album drew high praise from Grammy-winner Alison Brown: "Rebecca Frazier is a triple threat. She's a wonderfully engaging singer, a compelling songwriter, and an accomplished guitarist to boot. On 'When We Fall,' all of these talents come together to dazzling effect."
The range of material is impressive, as well. "Better than Staying" begins, "I want to follow this old gravel road / And see where it ends / I hear the highway calling / And it seems to be saying / That going anywhere is better than here..." And "It's funny how I feel in your way, now / When you used to be happy to see me / It seems so simple to me, dear / There's no longer a spark in your eyes..."
But the plaintive ballads are interspersed with blazing instrumentals such as "Virginia Coastline" and "Clifftop" that keep the pace upbeat.
The original songs on "When We Fall" are hard-earned from the most difficult period in Frazier's life. She and her husband John (Hit & Run's mandolinist) were living in Colorado when he received a job offer to tour with the John Cowan band--it meant a move to Nashville, and Rebecca mostly putting her own career on temporary hold.
Before long, motherhood began taking up all of her time. But in 2010, tragedy struck: their middle child died unexpectedly. And in the devastating grief she found herself entering a new period of creativity--writing new material and reworking other songs she had written in the past.
The offshoot of that re-found passion is "When We Fall"; its producer is Dixie Chicks' and Alison Krauss's studio wizard Brent Truitt. John plays mandolin and provides harmony vocals, with Barry Bales on bass, Shadd Cobb on fiddle, Andy Hall on reso-guitar, and Ron Block and Scott Vestal sharing banjo duties. Rebecca plays all the guitar and sings lead, with Shelby Means on harmony.
"I knew I could rely on creativity and hope in order to heal," Rebecca says now. "While the project itself may have been inspired by loss, its creation has brought joy to the forefront."
And that joy has opened up another avenue for the Fraziers, as well: the album's release coincided with the birth of a new baby girl.