Dynamite!

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 10:59 29/05/2014

I'm often asked about times when I got it wrong - either making the early call that an album isn't much chop and then coming around to really enjoy it, or perhaps raving about a record and then finding my enthusiasm for it dwindles rather swiftly. I can never remember examples but I know that this happens. I didn't hate the new album by Brian Eno and Karl Hyde but I don't think it's particularly strong. And, already, I can feel it getting weaker with each listen. There are, to my ears, two very strong songs on the album - I don't even know if they're up to much, compositionally. The album feels like it was assembled from off-cuts. But there's certainly two cool groove-pieces. But I know I won't care about that album at all soon enough.

That's no revelation though - the signs were there on the first listen.Dynamite!

I can report though that the new Tami Neilson album is fantastic! And this is news worth mentioning, for not only is it a great record (and it really is - my full review is in the link there above) but it's absolutely won me over. You see, I loathed the first album - it made it onto one of my lists of one-star reviews. But I'll always maintain that the next album by anyone has the chance to be treated like a first album, like a brand new artist, a brand new something. The baggage of the past is only brought up if I feel the record hasn't moved on; the artist might be repeating themselves - cf: most Bon Jovi albums. But I gave another Tami Nielson album a nice review because it was a better album.

And then I heard a few whispers that this latest record, Dynamite, was, well, dynamite. So I wanted to give it a try.

This was certainly something that could go either way - a wee bit of hype behind it, a few people (people whose opinions I respected) telling me that this was the great New Zealand country album, or something along those lines. A throwback to Wanda Jackson and Patsy Cline with a bit of the Amy Winehouse-styled retro-chic sass - and all that, er, jazz...

Well, I waited. I got hold of the album. Played it. Then played it some more. Then played it a whole heap more.

And wow! This thing really is amazing. It really is the best of its kind; I'm a little tired of the trying-to-sound-American/trying-to-feel-country vibe that you could almost call The Lyttleton Virus. But there's no complaints about Neilson singing in an American accent, she is Canadian. She was raised on this music too. It all fits. It makes sense.

But it isn't just that I've clicked with this album where previously I haven't with Neilson's work. Kudos must go to the players and producers involved. It's a talented cast that have helped push these songs into place.

I just believe in giving credit where credit is due. There's no such thing as a grudge to hold when reviewing records or concerts. There's a new assignment and deadline the next day - or later that same day - and you just move on to the next thing. I do have to eat my words though. You see there was another of Neilson's early albums that also made a list of my one-star reviews. And I concluded the review with some words about how Neilson was not talented (on the evidence of the first two records). I talked about how it was a lie that she could ever be seen as some Kiwi country music hopeful. Well, time has certainly shown that I got that wrong. She's very clearly the real deal on this new record.Tami and her gang

I just wanted to mention this album here because - do check it out, if you haven't already - I'm quite blown away by just how good it is. To me it's irrelevant that there were previous albums I didn't like - I'm certainly not trying to suggest my review of the new album means anything more because I didn't like some of the other albums.

What matters is this new record really spoke to me. I think it's a total class act. For what it's worth, and maybe it's nothing, I think Neilson has (finally) arrived. Dynamite is really an amazing piece of work.

Postscript: With the Wellington Jazz Festival creeping up (next week) I recently interviewed Chick Corea; the proverbial scholar and gent. So click that link if you're keen to read about Chick.

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