Tammy Rogers & Thomm Jutz - Surely Will Be Singin'
Mountain View Records
These two celebrated songwriters, musicians and vocalists are frequent writing partners and good friends, and their skills line up perfectly as a complement to one another on this their first album together. Texas-born fiddle-player Tammy Rogers started out playing in her father’s bluegrass band. Her first big break came in 1990 when she joined Patty Loveless’ band. She was also a co-founder of Dead Reckoning Records, one of Nashville’s earliest alt.country indie labels. German-born Thomm Jutz moved to Nashville in 2003 to pursue his passion for country music. Becoming a US citizen in 2008, he is now firmly established as a well-respected producer, musician and songwriter. Tammy and Thomm first met at an industry event some five years ago, and since then have co-written nearly one song a week, amassing a catalogue of over 140 songs. The pair have chosen a dozen of them for this album and it’s a credit to their musical acumen that the pair pull it all off with such deftness and agility. So too, credit to the more than capable accompanying musicians—Mark Fain (upright bass), Justin Mosses (banjo, Dobro) and Lynn Williams (drums, percussion)—who ably flesh out the arrangements with Tammy on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, viola and Thomm on guitar. For all their high-profile accomplishments, Tammy and Thomm don’t flaunt their well-seasoned skills.
This beautifully haunting and spiritual release is full of a lonely but hopeful heart. The title song, I Surely Will be Singing, is a sprightly tune with Tammy’s fiddle circling nimbly around the guitar, mandolin and banjo interplay. Inspired by the realisation that you could hear bird’s singing more clearly during the pandemic, because of less traffic, the up-tempo tune is flush with hope and rejoicing. With On Your Own they steer into folksier territory, with Tammy’s vocal phrasing a pure delight. The hypnotic, reflective All Around My Cabin Door is a meditation on self-repair. The ghostly textures, invoke a provocative range and mixture of tones as Thomm’s vocal speaks of the ravages of time as well as the joyful memories we carry with us through time, as he moodily looks around at his rapidly decaying surroundings and a life nearing its close. The driving Long Gone is played very much in the style of the early bluegrass pioneers and sung as a duet between Thomm and Tammy as it moves swiftly along. The song sounds so full of collaborative energy that you’d just assume there was a large band behind it. The forlorn Mountain Angel is full of Appalachian tradition, sounding like a song pulled out of a long-lost A. P. Carter songbook. The Tree Of Life opens with a sombre fiddle as the pair duet in perfect harmony, before Tammy takes a plaintive lead on this passionate gospel-inspired ballad moved by empathy and the power of humanity’s best. Full of heart wrenching storytelling, there’s also the prerequisite tales of unfaithful love (the exquisite About Last Night), Saturday night revelry (the prohibition-era Speakeasy Blues), and wise words passed down through the ages in Five Winters More To Come. The album closes with the emotional The Door, a painful story about watching a loved one suffering from dementia. It all adds up to a low-key, but somewhat invigorating set of songs and performances that is quite irresistible.