No one forgets the first time they saw Tami Neilson. She can hush a room with an original song that channels the hurting spirit of Patsy Cline or the sensuality of Peggy Lee, or bring the audience to its feet on a rockabilly raver.
She's an artist with real range, whose powerful voice can take on big ballads, golden-age country, heartfelt Gospel, soul-infused R&B, Western swing, even old-style rock 'n' roll. Tami encompasses them all and is a personality-powered cyclonic force of nature in stylishly retro attire, long lashes and a stacked-high beehive.
Of her new album's title, CHICKABOOM!, Tami explains, "I wanted to write an album of punchy little songs, popping firecrackers that, when stripped back to nothing but a guitar, percussion and two voices, would still go boom!" The new collection brings much personal and family history to the table.
Tami grew up performing across North America with the Neilson Family Band, working alongside greats such as Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker and Kitty Wells.
Subsequently, Tami fell in love with a New Zealander, moved to the bottom of the world and began her solo career without the support of the family. Her early records saw her in a self-created territory between mainstream country and alternative country, with awards in New Zealand for albums that added breadth to her "country singer" label: Best Female Artist, Best Country Album, Best Country Song, an APRA Silver Scroll (songwriting) award and Album of the Year nominations. Her Dynamite! album of 2014 received rave reviews in Britain's MOJO and the Guardian named it a Top 10 Best Country Music Album. Tami's songs appeared on the Netflix series Wanted and the terrestrial TV series Nashville.
Tami Neilson's singing and writing is too big to contain, as HMV Canada noted: "There are singers and then there is Tami Neilson, for whom the word singer just isn't big enough."
The road has now led to CHICKABOOM!, which is something different again, and even more personal. "In the past year, I started to notice something," she says. "The artists I would spend time with backstage at festivals, the ones I gravitated to the most and followed on social media ... artists like the Secret Sisters, Shovels & Rope, Kasey Chambers, Brandi Carlile ... they all had family performing with them. When you tour away from loved ones, it makes a world of difference to have part of your village with you on the road. Not to mention, nothing can come close to that special blend of blood harmonies and silent communication that only comes from being onstage with a person for over 30 years. Family has always been a huge part my music-writing, recording and creating with me, but I wanted family on this project and on the road with me again." Brother Jay flew to Auckland, New Zealand from Toronto to record a selection of new songs that have unmistakable sibling magic and harmonies. "I don't think he quite understands what he's gotten himself into but now the album's coming out it's a bit too late. Sucker," she laughs.
And if you've missed Tami before - on record or in concert - then you are in for a treat ... and you might not quite understand what you've gotten yourself into either.
As we say: you'll never forget the first time you saw Tami.
Everyone remembers the first time they they heard, or saw, Tami Nelson - she's a force of nature. Who else can evoke Screamin' Jay Hawkins one moment, sublimely slip into a Patsy Cline martini, then channel both Everly Brothers at once? While Neilson may call to mind other artists, to use the word retro is to miss the larger presence of a singer-songwriter who embodies virtually all of the branches of roots music, makes it singularly her own, and packs it with a wallop... The first great album of the year.
- Limited Edition Buttercream Vinyl LP
- Call Your Mama
- Hey, Bus Driver!
- Ten Tonne Truck
- Queenie, Queenie
- You Were Mine
- 16 Miles Of Chain
- Tell Me That You Love Me
- Any Fool With A Heart
- Sister Mavis