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A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by
Tammy Rogers' self-titled release on Dead Reckoning is ambitious and smart, a mixed plate of American country music with British pop and Irish fiddle flavors as well. The CD is expertly produced by Rogers and Harry Stinson, who have used Stinson's drum work (he's Dead Reckoning's house drummer and producer) to give this CD a rock-solid, satisfying groove. There are a ton of good musicians on this record, beginning with Tammy herself, who plays fiddle (as well as viola and cello), with maturity and grace. The mandolin of label-mate Kieran Kane, irresistible dobro licks by Jerry Douglas, and Fats Kaplin's slide guitar and accordion are sprinkled through the tunes; a number of folks including Emmylou Harris and Victoria Williams (who co-wrote one of the songs) contribute background vocals.
My favorite songs on the CD are the melancholy ones, which seem to be the best fit for Tammy's voice, which is high and sweet; I thought she sometimes lacked the power to keep up with the more upbeat tunes. The standout is "Let's Leave it Like That," in which Tammy sings, "When you said you didn't love me, I believed you/Don't think that I didn't hear you." It's probably the most lyrically effective song on the CD -- the words just jump out and grab you. "You Will Miss Me," another melancholy song about lost love, could have been vengeful if not for Rogers' delivery, which is so completely without malice that the song feels more sad than angry; the tune goes out with mandolin doodlings that conjure up for me the snowy scenes of Dr. Zhivago, somehow. There are a couple of other lost-love songs, as well -- the plaintive "Walls," and "Nothing at All," which features more of Rogers' evocative string work.
Not to give you the idea that this record is a lament -- far from it. "Can't Buy a Ticket to Heaven" is a gospel-inflected ensemble number that will get your toes tapping and the rest of you likely bopping around the kitchen. That's followed immediately by "On a Night Like Tonight," an energetic honky-tonk tune that features Alison Prestwood on bass and Mike Henderson on electric guitar. Prestwood also adds a great pop bassline to the very Beatle-esque "Come out and play" -- in which you can also hear strains of electric sitar.
"Coming Home" (the opening track) is a haunting Celtic-influenced instrumental tune that alerts the listener immediately that this is not another Nashville country-girl record. The album, appropriately enough, begins and ends with instrumentals, and given the lovely texture that Rogers coaxes out of her instruments, that was just fine with me.
Edited by Kerry Dexter