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ALBUM REVIEW: Tami Neilson – Chickaboom!

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Tami Neilson
Chickaboom!
Outside Music/Neilson Records

On her latest album, Canadian-Kiwi Tami Neilson strips things right back to the core essence of song, rhythm and particularly a spotlight on her exceptional voice. Her focus was to record the songs as they would sound on stage, as performed by a three-piece band – her current preference for international touring. She’s certainly achieved that goal with these ten songs cutting to the core of subjects such as family, marriage and balancing a professional career with parental responsibilities.

The early part of Neilson’s solo career was mostly shaped around country and Americana-styled songs but over time she’s evolved into a roots music polymath – harnessing the power of soul and funk, the loose-limbed shakedown qualities of rockabilly and the tried and true traditions of country music. There’s righteous, authentic strength to her songs, even when they’re questioning or lamenting loss. A standout is the show-stopping ‘You Were Mine’, one of those one-take vocal performances that will give you goosebumps. 

Elsewhere Neilson sounds like she’s have a barrel of fun with traditional formats – the songs bursting with life and lean, taut rhythms, many of which were co-written with her brother Jay who is also playing live with her in 2020. We get a gospel-styled tribute to Mavis Staples, the sass and strut of ‘Ten Tonne Truck’ and, after just 27 minutes, a gorgeous closing lullaby in ‘Sleep’. Chickaboom! is the most concise encapsulation yet of Neilson’s seemingly boundless talents.

Chris Familton

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