Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Album Review: Tami Neilson - CHICKABOOM!

Tami Neilson
*** out of *****

Retro from the drop, Tami Neilson's newest record recalls a time back in the mid fifties when R&B, Rockabilly, Country, Blues and Soul were just starting to merge into rock and roll. CHICKABOOM! is a throwback album in every sense, from the cover art, to the brief simple tunes to Neilson's beehive hairstyle.

In her youth she toured in a family band opening and playing with the likes of Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker, and Kitty Wells and she continued that family vibe on this record as her brother Jay plays bass/rhythm guitar while Delaney Davidson- Lead Guitar and Joe McCallum- Drums/Percussion round out the group. Neilson mentioned that for this record she “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!” and for the most part she succeed.

Oddly the album starts out fairly tame with "Call Your Momma" doing a mild Etta James jaunt, and "Hey, Bus Driver" serviceable rockabilly but neither catches fire. "Ten Tonne Truck" is a fun excursion with hand claps and "Queenie, Queenie" recalls the stripped down style of The Dixie Cups successfully but nothing on the first half of the album really explodes.

However, the songs on the second half of the album are all winners with the clear highlight being "You Were Mine". Neilson unleashes a blues vocal for the ages as she rips into a grooving low down torch song with fiery passion. Brett Adams joins on lead guitar for this number as the band form a solid groove around the throbbing heights of guitar and vocals; a stunner.

Things stay hot on "16 Miles of Chain" as warbling six strings dance and shimmer around another killer vocal from Neilson, the tune is a fitting ode/updated tribute to the Merle Travis tune "16 Tons". Two successful sides of the country coin are displayed as "Tell Me That You Love Me" dives into the road house frantic rambling anything-can-happen style while "Any Fool with a Heart" swings directly into Nashville pop arena.

Neilson and company pay tribute to a legend on "Sister Mavis" as the band revs up a Staples style rocker with Tami testifying for the tile singer in powerful gospel style. Pretty closer "Sleep" strips down a lullaby as Neilson closes CHICKABOOM! simply singing to her children, who have this music in their blood, just like Tami herself.
Support the artist, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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