Roadhouse album review: Tiffany Pollack & Co. free their spirit in “Bayou Liberty”

Tiffany Pollack & Co.“Bayou Liberty” (Nola Blue Records, July 16)

There’s a great old blues song with the title “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues.” I love that sentiment, but I’m not sure if it’s always true.

In fact, I think this latest album of all original songs from the very talented New Orleans songstress Tiffany Pollack shows a wild kind of blues streak with songs like “Spit On Your Grave,” “Sassy Bitch,” “Devil and the Darkness” (with Tiffany on slide guitar) and “Crawfish and Beer,” all appropriately sung in her swampy evil-gal blues voice.

Or maybe she did get the blues, but now she’s dishing them out to get rid of them? But I digress.

There are some ballsy blues in those songs, but there are also some more lyrical moments, including gentler tracks like “Colors” and “Hourglasses.”

“Mountain” has a plaintiff country feel, and “My Soul My Choice” is laced with some crisp horns for a shot of rhythm and blues.

Of course there’s more, as Pollack glides in and out of the dozen original tracks with stylish authenticity. There’s also a comfortable, down-home feel to the musical production. It feels both polished and spontaneous, a tribute to the direct-to-tape recording.

Talking about the real-deal feel of the music on the album, Pollack says: “We recorded everything on tape…like the legends of times gone by. There’s no pitch correction. Almost every single song, with the exception of one or two, is a complete live performance from beginning to end.” she says. “It was a very new and challenging recording experience because I had to be cool with some imperfection….”

That vintage style no doubt comes from album producer John Németh, one of my favorite people and performers, who also adds delicious harp on “Spit on Your Grave.” John is a big fan of getting his music real. And so is Electraphonic Studios in Memphis, where the album was recorded. The result is a pleasantly swampy clarity, if that’s not too much of a contradiction.

“I was asked to produce an album for Tiffany Pollack,” Németh says. “She’s a fantastic singer and songwriter from Louisiana …. She’s bonafide and so is her band, recording all these cuts live to tape.”

The band, not incidentally, provides a perfectly unobtrusive yet essential musical framework in harmony with Pollack’s shifting moods and styles. The members include Brandon Bunious, guitar; Stu Odom, bass,; Ian Pettillo, drums; Christopher Johnson, saxophone, and Eric Lewis, pedal steel.

“Bayou Liberty” is as easy to recommend as it is to listen to.

And by the way, “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues” is a great song. It was first recorded by  Ida Cox with Lovie Austin‘s Blues Serenaders in 1924. One of my favorite versions was at a Lyle Lovett Large Band concert, and Francine Reed pretty much raised the hair on the back of my neck with her electrifying take.

Here’s a video of the track “Crawfish and Beer”:

Tracklist:

1. Spit on Your Grave (feat. John Németh) (3:44)
2. Colors (3:31)
3. Crawfish and Beer (3:23)
4. Mountain (4:16)
5. My Soul My Choice (2:56)
6. Devil and the Darkness (3:56)
7. Sassy Bitch (3:52)
8. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (2:42)
9. Hourglasses (4:34)
10. Baby Boys (4:05)
11. Livin’ for Me (4:22)
12. Do It Yourself (2:58)

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