Tina Adair - Tina Adair
I first came across Tina Adair back in 1997, when she released her first album for Sugar Hill Records. The talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who started out on banjo and moved on to acoustic guitar, fiddle and mandolin, which has been her main instrument since her mid-teens, hails from Haleyville, Alabama, but for the past 19 years has called Nashville home. She was in her teens when she released JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE, leading to a whirlwind of touring. Instead of pursuing her blossoming music career, Tina decided to gain a college degree, placing music on the back burner. Following graduation, she’s been working at the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville. She has continued with her music, as and when it’s been possible, releasing several more solo albums and since 2012 has been a member of Sister Sadie, the award-winning bluegrass supergroup that also includes Dale Ann Bradley, Gena Britt, Beth Lawrence and Deanie Richardson. This is Tina’s first solo album in a decade, but the wait has been well-worthwhile, as it is everything I expected from this vastly talented performer.
She is accompanied by a top studio band of some of Nashville’s finest, including Scott Vestal (banjo), Casey Campbell (mandolin), Rob Ickes (reso-guitar), Cody Kilby and Pat McGrath (guitars), Tim Crouch (fiddle) and Dennis Crouch (bass) with vocal harmonies by Vickie Hampton, Robert Bailey, Wes Hightower, Garnet Bowman and Ronnie Bowman. Tina is steeped in the tradition of Patty Loveless and Reba McEntire and with this new album has produced an energy-infused country style of bluegrass music that would be at home in an outdoor festival or concert hall. She opens with a fast-paced, bluegrass-flavoured revival of Eighteen Wheels And A Dozen Roses, Kathy Mattea’s 1989 country hit. Driven by insistent banjo and fiddle interplay with smooth harmonies courtesy of Ronnie and Garnet Bowman, Tina maintains a cozy yet emotional, downhome vibe for a refreshing interpretation. There’s a gentle sense of grace, an unhurried sense of beauty to Still Got A Long Way To Go, a heartbreaking song of patience and hurt after a relationship goes awry, and moving on is still hard going. Won’t Be Crying Over You is a hard-driving bluegrass song written by Tina and Gena Britt, about the ultimate freedom: to let another go following wasted years of cheating and deception. The musicians involved have to turn in strong performances to keep up with the sass and smoke in Tina’s powerful and somewhat bitter vocal performance. She turns Mickey Newbury’s Why You Been Gone So Long into a Hank Williams-styled country blues with an intoxicating tangle of arpeggios.
She flexes her muscles on a two-steppin’ I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind, a grassified rendition of an old Hank Williams song. This is a potent marriage of voice and song. Her tears plop upon fiddle and guitar in oceanic shapes on Jamie O’Hara’s Ashes Of Sorrow. Tender and sweet, in a voice over-flowing with emotion, she offers comforting support to a friend who has lost a loved one. Tina’s superb support crew adds instrumental embellishment while underscoring an overall sense of exuberance and devotion to Michael Hanly’s Past the Point Of Rescue. Her voice is passionate and breathlessly vulnerable, full of palpable regret that is belied by the plaintive harmonies. The concluding track is a fervent rendition of William Tennyson’s I Met The Man. A dynamic slice of southern church music, this is a stirring musical flight, her voice a splendid, sky-tearing vehicle that strikes at the heart of her soul and beliefs, aided by impassioned gospel-tinged background vocals led by veteran session singer Vicki Hampton. A fitting climax to a superb album.