Taking its name from ‘sassafrass’ – slang for a sassy person who isn’t afraid to speak her mind – Tami Neilson’s album places a heavier emphasis on soul music while not abandoning her country and rockabilly roots. Neilson conjures up a wonderfully retro style that sounds like it could be a lost gem from the late ’50s or early ’60s; however, beneath the classic veneer are frank, highly relevant lyrics.
Neilson’s confident vocals are undoubtedly abetted by her being surrounded by familiar collaborators. She co-produced SASSAFRASS! with Ben Edwards, the co-producer of her last two critically-acclaimed albums, DYNAMITE! and DON’T BE AFRAID.
Backing her up in the studio was her talented band, the Hot Rockin’ Band of Rhythm: Joe McCallum (drums), Mike Hall (bass), Brett Adams (guitar) and Neil Watson (guitar and pedal steel), who have toured with her around the globe over the past three years. A brass section and strings enhance the album’s classic qualities.
For the past decade, Neilson has been the queen of the Kiwi country and roots music scenes, with countless accolades and achievements to her name, including a handful of ‘Best Country Album’ awards at the New Zealand Music Awards and the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll for excellence in songwriting.
She has also built up a loyal fan-base who know they’re guaranteed one hell of a show, when it comes to her live performances and that’s certainly what’s in store for the SASSAFRASS! Tour.