|Tracy Nelson - You'll Never Be a Stranger at My Door|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by John Sutton-Smith|
|Saturday, 01 September 2007|
label: Memphis International
reviewer: John Sutton-Smith
Mother Earth legend and one of the great under-rated singers in American music, Tracy Nelson has never stopped recording in a career that goes back to the ‘60s. For most of that time, she has belted out soulful, innately American blues-rock, but ever since recording the influential Tracy Nelson Country nearly four decades ago, there has always been a little country in her blues.
And the very cool new album You'll Never Be a Stranger At My Door says amen to that. Her first solo release since 2003's Live from Cell Block D and first studio recording since ‘01's Ebony & Irony, this is in fact Tracy's first pure country recording since those 1969 sessions, revisiting a musical territory she hasn’t really explored since her time with the classic Mother Earth.
All but one of the selections here are covers of Nelson’s favorite songs, associated with Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash, Don Gibson, the Everly Brothers, but the stand-out perhaps is the one original she wrote with Guy Clark and Alice Newman Vestal. Perfectly illustrating Tracy’s true sense of country music, "Salt of the Earth" tells the stories of her Dickson, Tennessee neighbors, in the old tradition of porch story songs about family and friends, life and death.
The album kicks off with a great take on Ella’s "Cow Cow Boogie," injecting a little jazz into the western swing, and keeps going with powerful and heartfelt renditions of Cash's "I Still Miss Someone," Jim Reeves' "Four Walls" and the Everly Brothers' "I Wonder If I Care as Much."
Nelson isn’t always belting here, blending her powerful pipes into the melody and doing faithful service to the words, especially on tracks like Randy Sharp's "New Way Out" and Don Gibson's iconic "Oh, Lonesome Me."
The blues come out, though, on the uptempo re-working of Ernest Tubb's "Thanks a Lot" and her signature live number "Stranger at My Door.”
Whether it’s blues, rock or country, Tracy Nelson sings from the soul, and this is a fine new collection from an American treasure.
Recorded in Nashville with producer Mike Dysinger, Nelson was able to attract some top-line musicians, and it shows. All veterans of sessions with everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Emmy Lou, there is a real sense of country comfort and authenticity – slow and in the pocket on the ballads and tough and tight on the grittier stuff – and Nelson’s voice comes across like the tour de force that it is.