PAM TILLIS > Rhinestoned

Thank God Pam Tillis lost her record deal. She probably misses the deep pockets the label had, but she’s got something even better. Tillis has her mojo back. As she ages, Tillis’ voice just gets richer and more soulful. That wonderful voice is just now starting to ripen.

Label: STELLAR CAT
[Rating: 4]

Thank God Pam Tillis lost her record deal. She probably misses the deep pockets the label had, but she’s got something even better. Tillis has her mojo back. As she ages, Tillis’ voice just gets richer and more soulful. That wonderful voice is just now starting to ripen. Now that she has her own imprint label, she can control her own artistic direction; she can write and sing the songs that she wants to write and sing without worrying about singles or chasing a radio hit. Yet Rhinestoned seems to be full of possible radio hits, that is, if radio ain’t scared of a good shuffle.

Although an accomplished songwriter, Tillis has writing credits on only two tracks. The remainder were penned by a literal “who’s who” of great songwriters including Leslie Satcher, Jon Randall, Verlon Thompson, Bruce Robison, Andrew Gold, Lisa Brokop, and Matraca Berg. Of the two Tillis penned cuts, “Life Sure Has Changed Us Around” a co-write with Gary Nicholson and Tom Hambridge, is destined for greatness due in no little part to John Anderson’s appearance on the track. “Band in the Window” is another standout track, documenting life as a musician on Lower Broadway in Nashville. “That Was a Heartache” has a groove reminiscent of the best of ‘70s era country music, the music Tillis grew up on.

Tillis is singing to a more mature audience these days. She is aware of it and isn’t worried by it. She is choosing songs that have meaning and will resonate with an audience instead of the little three-minute up-tempo instantly forgettable fluff pieces that seem to be so common everywhere these days. She’s not afraid to break your heart, or to let you see that hers has been broken. She’s also not afraid to laugh at herself. Basically what Pam Tillis is doing is making grown-up music for grown-up people to listen to, and how long has it been since somebody in country did that? I just hope she continues to do so. Maybe she will start a trend.

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  1. Pam Tillis is the best in the business! I’ve been listening to her since 1991 and have never stopped. Every time she gets within a few hundred miles I go to her concerts but she’s not in California often enough so I had to travel to Branson MO and other locations to see her.

    Her voice landed me the first time I heard it on the radio with “Don’t tell me what to do” I had no idea who she was since the DJ did not say her name but later I found out she was the Daughter of Mel Tillis, how ironic I thought because I had several of his records I listened to often also.

    You mention she plays to an older crowd these days and I have noticed I am for the most part the youngest in the room at her shows!! I’m only 42!!! I hope Pam never stops being Pam! She is the best!

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