You will never forget the first time you hear Tami Neilson. I was 15, watching Tami open for Gin Wigmore at the Auckland Town Hall. She came onto the stage with a beehive hairdo in a sparkly silver dress, belting about motherhood and crooning about love and loss. I was instantly transfixed. She was a total powerhouse.
I never forgot the first time I heard Tami, and every time since I am reminded of why I was so transfixed. Through four studio albums, a live album, and several singles, Tami has demonstrated her range and talent; roaming from her country roots in Don’t Be Afraid, to exploring soul, folk, gospel, swing, R&B, and more recently in Sassafrass!, hints of pop.
What remains constant throughout is Tami’s voice and her distinctly feminist approach to creating music in genres often hostile to women. Her new single, ‘Baby You’re a Gun’, is no exception. The piece opens with sweeping strings, and Tami’s haunting lone voice remnant of old-school Westerns.
The song sounds like a warning. Tami reminds women “oh baby, you’re a gun…they better run, they better run and hide”. Underestimate women at your own peril—women are no longer “existing for [men’s] pleasure, waiting their command”.
Strong women aren’t just men’s lovers, mothers, and daughters.