Music Reviews
Tami Neilson

Tami Neilson


Outside Music

If it’s WOW-factor that you seek, walk this way – you’ve arrived at your desired destination.

Following her acclaimed 2015 sophomore release, Don’t Be Afraid, New Zealand’s award-winning singer / songwriter Tami Neilson has finally dropped her long-awaited third record, Sassafrass!

Touted for years as a honky tonk-type country artist, Neilson spreads her wings on Sassafrass! – a delightfully jazzy, blues-flavored, uptown-tinged set that oozes an aura more reminiscent of Lena Horne than Wanda Jackson.

With the tag team production effort of Neilson and studio ace, Ben Edwards, Sassafrass! kicks off strong with the snappy and sassy go-go pop-driven, “Stay Outta My Business.” Brimming with attitude, “Diamond Ring” is a sultry seduction, while “A Woman’s Pain” just might lead listeners back across the Tallahatchie Bridge. A songwriting collaboration with her brother, Jay Neilson, the gloriously vintage-sounding “Devil in a Dress” would make for a custom-tailored fit on the soundtrack to the hit TV series, Mad Men – add 20 BIG bonus points!

Other highlights include the smoky, Pasty Cline-inspired “One Thought of You,” the R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ful “Miss Jones” and the Peggy Lee-style “Smoking Gun.” However, the most valuable prize stashed inside this aural “Cracker Jack box” is “Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6” – a honey-coated heartache gem that points most directly to Neilson’s authentic country roots.

In sum, with Sassafrass! Tami Neilson covers a vast amount of stylistic geography, boldly and quite successfully – making for an eclectic 11-song treasure brimming with WOW-factor to spare.

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