National Road Music
A Real-Deal Feisty and Passionate Country Singer-Songwriter
Lazy journalists often point to the disposable Spotify Generation who cherry pick songs for their playlists as ‘the main users of music today’; but in my humble opinion….that is complete and utter bollocks!
In the world I live in (and presumably you too) music is still a ‘considered purchase’ , and by using the internet wisely it is timeless.
Last week I saw two talented young men regaling us with Blues songs from pre WWI that they meticulously learnt from YouTube, which strangely brings me to this Cheley Tackett’s fourth album Buckeye, first released in the US in 2017 but getting a new lease of life two years later to coincide with a UK and European tour.
What little I knew of her background hardly prepared me for the opening song Bitter Girl; yet it’s the perfect way to introduce us to a very prodigious talent with a leathery, worn and very expressive voice and a special talent with words and storytelling. Plus any song with a Nah Nah Nah chorus is always going to find favour at RMHQ.
For the uninitiated like me, Cheley sits comfortably in the early Mary Chapin Carpenter and Lucinda Williams camp; mixing acoustic and electric guitars, catchy tunes, Country sentiments and more attitude than a cat on heat.
Paraphrasing the adage ‘Never choose a book by the cover’ certainly doesn’t apply here; as on the album cover Cheley looks in defiant mood and her eyes tell you not to mess with her; and that image inhabits her songs $2 Bill, Crucible Steel and on The Healer she will turn your head inside out.
Another thing here; is the all pervading darkness many of her characters live in, but Cheley shines a light on for us to examine lives that are oft ignored; in the Southern Gothic My Best Dress (a co-write with Ashley McBryde and Randall Clay) the character hurts, she hurts a lot in a timeless lament, and I can’t think of a song in this vein this good I’ve heard for over 20 years.
There’s a fascinating cover song here; CSN&Y’s Ohio which is sung straight from the heart and features some drum effects that mirror ‘boots on the ground.’ Who knew that this ‘protest song’ from 1971 would still resonate with a new generation in 2019?
As a Country Album at heart; there are copious tales of heartache and break throughout, with the haunting Used to Feel Good being about ‘how real life can take away the fun that a relationship was founded on’ and the poetic Heavy Heart will touch people who have lost loved ones both physically and emotionally.
Then, there is All She Knows is Rain, which starts
“Six years old watchin’ cartoons in a trailer reeks of cigarettes
Mama’s long gone and Daddy’s out cold on his cloud of barbiturates
And she’s right at home all alone
Ain’t no use to cry”
Can a song get any Countrier than that?
But there is also a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel too which is why Magic Still Happens is the RMHQ Favourite Track; but I won’t ‘spoil’ it for you……. check it out on the attached video (albeit a different version) and cry your heart out.
Although she’s been around the scene in the USA for nearly twenty years; Cheley Tackett is a new find for us here in the UK and while some of the venues on her UK Tour are in far flung corners; I think she’ll be back soon (Festival season?) and just like Mary, Lucinda and Nanci before her we will clutch her to our collective bosom and make Cheley Tackett one of our own.
Released USA 2017
Released UK March 1st 2019