sun 19/05/2024

Album: Tami Neilson - CHICKABOOM! | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Tami Neilson - CHICKABOOM!

Album: Tami Neilson - CHICKABOOM!

New Zealand-based country powerhouse keeps it in the family

You'll fall in love with Tami Neilson

What’s going to make you fall in love with Tami Neilson? Will it be the way she cackles her way through the chorus of “Ten Tonne Truck”, her foot-stomping rags to riches daydream about a down-on-their-luck performing family who head for Nashville with dreams of country stardom?

Will it be the cheeky euphemistic “woo-hoo” that punctuates the litany of women’s work that is never done on “Queenie Queenie”? Or perhaps the little smile she gives when she stumbles, all high heels and higher hair, into the model village representing the view from the back of a tour bus in the “Hey, Bus Driver!” video?

It’s been over a decade since Neilson relocated to New Zealand from her native Canada: her musical career began in family band The Neilsons, sharing stages with the likes of Johnny Cash and Kitty Wells with her parents and brothers. Yet thoughts of home and family dominate latest album CHICKABOOM!, from the – hopefully not entirely autobiographical – subject matter to the brother Jay popping up as an occasional duet partner.

The no-frills songwriting on CHICKABOOM! – only two of its ten tracks break the three-minute mark – is as indebted to rockabilly and old-school rock and roll as country and western, giving the music a timeless feel that belies the contemporary concerns that creep into the lyrics. At the centre, though, is Neilson’s deep, expressive voice, her huge presence and impeccable timing giving the recording an as-live feel. Sassy opener “Call Your Mama” is an empowered twist on the cheatin’ heart country classic, and the rollicking “Sister Mavis” raises Staples, Jackson and Tharpe to the status of holy scripture.

While belting them out is Neilson’s preferred style, the album still manages to sneak in a few surprises - flamenco-infused torch song “Any Fool With a Heart”, her voice harmoniously entwined with Jay’s, chief among them. Neilson is already an award-winning powerhouse in New Zealand – it’s high time the rest of the world opened their hearts.

Below: Hear "Hey, Bus Driver!" by Tami Neilson


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