Tamara Stewart, an Australian born, Nashville based artist, released her new album “Woman” (link here) on April 11th. It is very much a jigsaw of an album that Tamara called “the beginning of a new chapter” when she spoke to us for our feature. I say “jigsaw” because each of the 13 songs provides a different perspective on Tamara, and her songs are quite personal and autobiographical. The album, like the artist, is unapologetically country in style. Tamara is one of life’s survivors and a musician with a number of successful albums under her belt. A podcaster and songwriter, her new album invites the listener to enter the world of a singer “educated by the blues” but delivering poignancy in the lyrics and country sound. We interviewed her recently for the magazine, and she’s a wise stateswoman for the country genre.
So, it was time to slip off my shoes, settle on the sofa with a drink and indulge in some listening pleasure…
Here we go –
“Just a Woman” opens the album and lyrically challenges us from the start. The album title may be a clue, but this album lyrically spins on women’s issues and lives. Her voice is classy country with a distinctive sound, vocals are to the fore in the mix, but a great band carries the album through. This opener with a nod to the need for “amber courage” is a reply to the “It’s a man’s world” saying. It’s her song on the radio!
“Mean Girl” is described by Tamara in her interview with us as “the thing I hadn’t yet said. So it could only have come in the light of a new day. It belongs on the new record, not the old one (“The Truth, the Music, and Me,” 2019, link to buy below), but it needed to be said on the last record (“my divorce record”). From the perspective of songwriting, I am proud and blown away by the response to it. It is the connection piece, and that is how I judge what success is like. I was chasing something else when I first signed a record deal, but I look for something different now. I am really so pleased that my album when I was 25 was not the end of my creative story, it was the start, and I have survived in a tough business. I am proud I am still in the business.”
“Joan of Arc” is an up tempo number that seems to give a nod to an old friend. I liked it, I thought it was one of the strongest on the album. It has more of a rock tempo in the mix, and a great touch of French in the lyrics. It was a bitter pill taken with sugar.
“Like a Man” returns us to a gentle swaying sound, it is a solid album track, and Tamara does this one with a touch of sadness.
“The Orphan” is a song about being a woman who has no children, the lyrics matter a lot here. It’s a voice for having a life and being content with the way things are, even if the world doesn’t seem to want to accept you as you are.
“I Ain’t Done Yet” returns to a far more upbeat sound, and I bet this one will sound great live if Tamara includes it in the set. It is a great ‘dance in the barn’ sound. Classic material, great!
“Luxury,” for different reasons, sees Tamara deliver a strong number, full of contemplation this one; drawing some hope from the difficulties the story tells.
“Gone” continues with lyrical storytelling. Tamara slots into her characters and delivers their tales in story form. This one made me feel sad, “Sometimes I forget that you are gone.” It made me connect to personal loss recently, and that has to be good songwriting if it connects to the listener.
“Moonshine” changes direction again, and has this lovely drum beat that takes us into the world of this lady whose “mamma drinks moonshine.” This has to be a possible single, it jumps out and demands a listen.
“The Woman” is a gentle number introducing another woman to us. The album slows for this track again, but it has this easy sway that I got into. You need to stand and sway to this one under a southern sky, watching the evening arrive.
“Wings and Wheels” takes us back to a rocking sound, and I loved that harmonica! It has a bit of attitude, this one! The chorus hooks are great, and it is a solid track that I got into.
“Mondays” closes the album with a beautiful harmony. Its thoughtful lyrics close the album and the music uplifts the sadness within.
Let us summarize this album, which I really recommend you listen to in the order it is planned. It is a mature, retrospective album from a wonderful storyteller and has a personal narrative flowing through it. At times it moves toward lament, but then it returns to the upbeat delight to be found in “Joan of Arc.” Light and shade, yin and yang, male and female; they are all here to entertain you.
By Lorraine Foley
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