Looking For a Feeling
Stellar Cat Records
Country Superstar Shows the New Kids How To Do It.
I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look at how we work here at RMHQ.
Way back in early February the Press Agent sent an e-mail listing forthcoming releases; and this was on it.
A week later the CD arrived in NE England from a hot n sultry part of America.
I gave it a cursory play – 3 random tracks to determine which pile it would go on. The GOLD STAR one in this case.
It went into all three cd players on heavy rotation for three days; then handed across to Mrs Magpie; who nearly wore it out apparantly.
Late March I purloined it again for another day to see if I felt the same way; as my memory isn’t too hot these days. Damn right I did!
Then; a week before release it became our soundtrack to a lazy ‘lockdown weekend’ and today; it’s my album of choice to fill in the golden hours of my birthday.
Not all albums gets the same treatment, but we really do listen to the music we review.
The title track Looking For a Feeling opens the disc in a laid back; yet still spectacular fashion. There’s still the essence of Country’s Golden Years in Pam’s vocal stylings and the words she sings; but there’s also a sharp contemporary edge that belies her ‘age’. #SmileyEmoji
Most of the songs here come from Pam’s pen in one way or another; but there are a couple of mighty fine selections from Nashville’s finest writers too; starting with the relatively ‘heavy’ sound and words in Matraca Berg’s Demolition Angel; which is both spooky and heart-string tugging at the same time.
As I originally checked the track listing I spotted Gillian Welch’s name and raised my eyebrows; as that’s the last type of music I’d associate with Ms Tillis; but what do I know? Nothing it appears.
Dark Turn of Mind is a fabulously timeless song that also features some sublime guitar and pedal-steel; tsch-tsch drumming of the finest order and a singer singing her little heart out ….. this IS Country Music at it’s best.
With so many singers like Whitney Rose and Ashley McBryde resurrecting this style of homespun country, it’s a rare treat to hear someone like Pam Tillis using her talents to show them how it should be done on the heartbreakers The Scheme of Things and Last Summer’s Wine.
What is it with her velvet voice and phrasing that leaves a tingle where I haven’t felt a tingle for many years?
One song even makes two appearances; Better Friends which arrives towards the beginning then closes the album like a good friend at the end of the night. Yet again Pam mysteriously adds a cutting edge to what should be a formulaic sad Country Love Song.
After all I’ve said about Pam’s background in ‘Traditional Country’ I still wasn’t prepared for Dark Turn of Mind, with it’s pedal-steel and fiddle backing, which made me think I was listening to a rare Patsy Cline record ….. but no; it’s 100% 2020 Pam Tillis.
A major part of the thrill you will get here is hearing the variety of musical time bombs that shouldn’t work in sequence, but are all virtual musical time-bombs that work perfectly well following each other as they do.
As usual in these cases Mrs Magpie and myself have squabbled over which is ‘my’ Favourite Song here; with the sultry and Soulful Country Ballad Scheme of Things being my first (and only) choice; primarily because it reminded me of Dusty in Memphis (which I must dust down soon) but apparantly I should have selected Dolly 1969 ……. which I do love and adore; as it’s ….. no ……. you check it out. You will be surprised to the core; but probably not …… it’s clever and a doozy too; and don’t be surprised if a few of those young Country kittens start including it in their sets later this year.
Perhaps Mrs. Magpie was right all along …… but don’t tell her I said so.
This is Pam’s 14th album since she released her first in 1983 and an awful lot has happened in the intervening years; but the only important thing here is Pam is BACK!
Released April 24th 2020