DON’T BE AFRAID
OUTSIDE MUSIC 23339-9106-2
DON’T BE AFRAID–HOLY MOSES–LONELY (FEAT. MARLON WILLIAMS)–SO FAR AWAY–IF LOVE WERE ENOUGH–BURY MY BODY–LOCO MAMA–HEAVY HEART–ONLY TEARS–LAUGH LAUGH LAUGH–THE FIRST MAN–DON’T BE AFRAID (DAD’S DEMO)
Tami Neilson and her father, Ron, toured Canada for many years as the Neilson Family Band, opening for country acts from the States who ventured north of the border. Ron dedicated his life to playing the music he loved, and Tami is proudly carrying on the family tradition thru the completion and release of her latest album, “Don’t Be Afraid.” The eleven cuts herein are all band originals, and it is a bittersweet affair. With only two songs completed, Ron passed away in 2015, leaving Tami and the band to soldier on by themselves.
The finished product is a sweet batch of songs that are celebrations of the joys of life and redemptive in that they aid in the grieving process. During her father’s illness, Tami listened to a lot of spiritual music, especially that of Mavis Staples, and you can feel that gospel-soul vibe on several of these cuts. “Holy Moses” features a rapid-fire guitar attack over Tami’s vocal that recalls vintage Tina Turner, as she offers up a prayer for deliverance after a lover departs. “So Far Away,” written by guitarist Delaney Davidson, follows a haunting rhythm pattern, as Tami sings, “I’ll get there tomorrow if I leave yesterday!” Astute listeners may recognize this one from its use in the “Nashville” TV show.
Tami does inject some humor into this set as well, to help ease the pain of loss. “Loco Mama” follows a rhum-boogie beat as Tami sings of the simultaneous joy and madness associated with parenthood. And, “Laugh Laugh Laugh” finds her smiling thru her tears when a lover leaves, done over a vaudeville-ragtime arrangement.
We had two favorites, too. A duet with Marlon Williams is vintage country, as “Lonely just won’t leave me alone.” And, the title cut, in two versions, bookends the set. “Don’t Be Afraid” was the last song Ron Neilson wrote before his death, and you can hear him laboring to sing the lyrics on the set-closing demo version. It is an ode to perseverance and never giving up, because your guardian angel is always with you!
Tami Neilson recently brought the house down at two shows during the Americana Fest here in town last week. She has used the music of “Don’t Be Afraid” to get thru the passing of her father. This set represents her trials and triumphs over the past year, and is a brilliant collection from one of Americana’s brightest stars! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.