Too many singers in Tullie Brae’s ilk deliver overwrought vocals but not Tullie. Steeped in church and gospel music in her home state of Louisiana, combined with her multi-instrumental skills, Brae is not faking a thing; she knows the blues . Also, Executive Producer Mick Kolassa knows a few things about the idiom too. With this album recorded in four different studios in Memphis. Kolassa was able to recruit ace keyboardist Rick Steff to augment Brae’s own considerable keyboard skills, acclaimed guitarist Jeff Jensen, who also produced, and a supporting cast that includes Memphis backup singers Susan Marshall and Danielle Hill along with harmonica ace Brandon Santini. All told, there are 15 musicians in the credits, but this is clearly Tullie Brae’s show.
Brae delivers ten originals, plays piano, Hammond B3, and slide guitar on various tracks and creates a commanding presence with her powerful opener, “Price of the Blues,” about domestic violence and home grown justice. Brae is revealing her stance as an independent confident woman immediately and it sets the stage for what follows. Her gospel influences emerge in “Seven Bridges,” about seeking redemption, that segues into “Mississippi Rain,” one of several here chronicling a failed relationship. You could apply the same to “Break These Chains.” Though it all her soulful stance and impressive vocal range are attention-getting. She knows she’s got to change the theme of the bad relationships and turns to “New Shoes,” celebrating friendships that make her feel renewed.
Her Louisiana roots come to the fore on “Devil in Deville,” about a battle between a country preacher and the Devil, done Hill Country style. She can’t seem to get away from bad relationships, penning “Ain’t No Good,” before turning the tables for “Watch Her Move,” a nod to women who have risen from adversity. She keeps this theme intact with the clear standout track, “Shine.” She closes affectionately, with “Thank You Mom,” which is every bit as good as the tile suggests.
Tullie Brae is in our vernacular, a triple threat – singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. She’s a dynamic force.
- Jim Hynes