Tami Neilson: "Manitoba Sunrise At Motel 6" (Outside Music): Now a major star in her adopted homeland of New Zealand, this Canadian-raised roots singer/songwriter is deservedly beginning to have an international impact.
Her next album, Sassafrass! , comes out on June 1, and the first single, "Stay Outta My Business," was a big and brassy R&B romp. Neilson, a stylistic chameleon, returns to her country roots for this second single. A real album highlight, "Manitoba Sunrise At Motel 6" finds her channelling her inner Patsy Cline, delivering a tear-jerking ballad in emotionally convincing fashion.
In a recent FB post, she recalls the origins of the song: "It was a freezing cold February morning in the middle of a cross-Canada winter tour. I was missing my boys terribly and I took a photo of the sunrise upon waking, captioning it with 'Manitoba Sunrise from Motel 6,' and immediately began the lyrics. They sat in my notebook for months until the day I heard the news of Glen Campbell’s death.
"I was so saddened and felt like I’d somehow lost a part of my childhood, another part of my father, who had died two years earlier. I picked up my guitar and wrote the music and melody in homage to him, a way to express my sadness, celebrate his legacy of music and thank him in my own little way."
Given the Canadian setting, you'd think this would be a natural fit for country radio here, but the sound may well be too old-school to belong on banal current playlists (the video did get a premiere on Rolling Stone Country). Steel and strings are employed judiciously, but Neilson's force of nature voice rightfully holds centre stage. The track showcases her strengths as a songwriter too, via lines like "lonesome prairie wind, won't you blow me home again").
Neilson plays the Mariposa festival (July 6-8), followed by Ontario shows in Gravenhurst, Burnstown, and Corbyville. Details here
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