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A 'Time' for Sweetly Subtle Devastation

Even when she was singing in the poppy punk band Tiger Trap, Rose Melberg had a flair for sad, gentle melodies. During a career evolution that's taken her through stints as leader of Go Sailor and the appropriately named Softies -- and on into her sweetly whispery solo work -- those melodies have only gotten sadder and gentler.

As lovely and bittersweet as "Take Some Time" gets, it's Nick Krgovich's sly minor-key piano line that grants the song its status as a major-league tearjerker. Melberg doesn't hide her emotions to begin with -- "Just let me take a trip someplace / where no one knows my sad, sad face" -- as she piles on bittersweet vocal harmonies. But the elegant plinking of Krgovich's piano propels an otherwise straightforward lament into the realm of the sublime.

"There was once a time when all I wanted was to just be by your side," she sings, adding, "Now that's all but died." There's enough pathos there to support a hundred ballads, but in spite of all those tiny but devastating flourishes, "Take Some Time" never sounds overwrought: It surveys miles of emotional wreckage, yet the scene it sets seems oddly sweet.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)