25 Jun 2019
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Tami Neilson - Album review: Sassafrass!

01 Jun 2018 // A review by Jacquie Walters
Tami Neilson's latest outing Sassafrass! is the album you didn't realise you desperately needed until you heard it. It really is a humdinger.

Blimey but Neilson can sing and write songs! Each track is bang on in its own way. Traversing topics such as equal pay, to trolling of mothers (they can't avoid criticism no matter what they do as Neilson so accurately points out), to the fall of Harvey Weinstein, this is the album you didn’t know was missing from your life.

It kicks off in rollicking fashion with Stay Outta My Business - instant sass in evidence from the very first line. Neilson is beautifully supported by her outstanding band, the Hot Rockin' Band of Rhythm comprised of Joe McCallum (drums), Mike Hall (bass), Brett Adams (guitar), and Neil Watson (guitar and pedal steel). The group have been touring with Neilson for years and it shows. This is a mature, finely-honed, world-class musical ensemble. 

The first few tracks deal with inequality and self-determination for women, Diamond Ring memorably stating "If there's a table for one, then I wanna take it. Don't need the pain that loving brings. Don't want no other man's diamond ring." It's an uplifting clarion call for a point of view that is having its moment (thank goodness). 

A Woman's Pain is my personal favourite on the album. It provides a real opportunity to appreciate the wonderful qualities in Neilson's voice and the absolute and incontrovertible power of her songwriting. “Partake of pleasure and reap the shame. The hand that holds the power assigns the blame and this old world turns on a woman’s pain.”

Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6 was reminiscent of the very best work of Mary Chapin Carpenter, featuring impeccable vocals, with the music written as a heartfelt homage to Glen Campbell on the day he died.

While it might be gritty and pointed this album is all heart. Nowhere is this clearer than in the final track Good Man

“But you know I’m going to choose you if there’s a choice to be made
I’d be a damn fool to lose you and lose my way
Because you’re a good man
And a good, good man don’t just come along every day”

That's certainly true, and neither does a truly great album like Sassafrass!.

Sassafrass! is a deeply impressive piece of work from Neilson. It's witty, energising, moving, and high quality from beginning to end. 

I'm delighted and honoured to have listened to it.

★★★★★ (5 stars)


Review written by Jacquie Walters

 

About Tami Neilson

With a soulful voice straight from the golden age of country and rockabilly music, Tami Neilson has been described as "A red-hot honky-tonker, somewhere between Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson with perhaps just a little bit of Peggy Lee sophistication.” - Nick Bollinger, NZ National Radio

Winner of the New Zealand Music Awards Best Country Album 2009, 2010 and 2012

Tami Neilson was raised in Canada, by parents with a closet full of sequined stage costumes and platform shoes.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tami Neilson

Releases

Dynamite
Year: ????
Type: Album
Red Dirt Angel
Year: ????
Type: Album
Sassafrass!
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Don't Be Afraid
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
The Kitchen Table Sessions
Year: 2010
Type: Album

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