A handwritten note backed with stark honest songwriting, artfully crafted song quests delivered with individuality and venerable attitude are a sure fire way to the inner layers of my musical heart, black as it may appear at times. That said, Nellie Clay is a badass. In the most beautiful and passionate vernacular possible, she’s a go getter, follows no path of bullshit, and even has a trademark ‘yowl’ that I’ve interpreted as a nod to her upbringings in the prideful states of Oklahoma and Alaska collectively – it’s part yodel, part howl, all gravy.
Nellie Clay & The Lucky Dogs’, Never Did What I Should’a Done, is an eclectic collection of country folk songs all with a touch of the originality of Clay. Let’s face it the singer/songwriter genre per se is a tough nut to crack in and of itself. To find a few ingredients to separate oneself from the pack seems text book regardless of gender. What seperates Ms.Clay & The Lucky Dogs is the incapacity for bullshit. Clay writes songs truer than a Cherokee bloodline, all for the world to hear, sans fear of judgement or coloring within the lines of pre-conceived notions. The key to that ability is the quality of musicianship surrounding well written material and the fortitude of the producer behind it. Success was Clay’s in surrounding a slew of friends with top notch talent on the instrumentation part and James Frazee in the producer’s chair in studios both in Alaska and my home state of New Jersey. A concrete solid record from strike to burn, special stuff, the songs excavate you as you digest them.
From the well-layered cosmic country sounds of “Sleeping On Floors” and its predecessor numerical on the record “Into This City” Clay’s autobiographical word play minces none. She’s also not afraid to bring on the hellfire in the sister-in-law anti-shout out in “9 Kinds Of Hell” right into the dobro laced “Burnin Fires” a licking the wounds country crooner full of regret, distrust, and bewilderment. Midwestern girls with the resolve to call a 6x9 shack home in the Great White North seem to be able to write some beautiful, point worthy country music. At least Nellie Clay did what she should’a on this effort, I hope it gains a steed, these dogs can hunt. (+words by scott zuppardo+)
*Originally published at No Depression 11/28/15*