‘Looking for a Feeling,’ Pam Tillis finds it in new album

Pam Tillis looked around and really went for it here.
Photo by Matt Spicher

Pam Tillis has re-rooted herself in Music City’s East Nashville community. Relaxed but artistically electrified in multiple ways, the new music scene there thrives, but so do the classics that heated Tillis up when she was a youngster.

The whole of it has ignited newfound musings and passion in the singer. As a result, the six original songs and six complementary covers that make up “Looking for a Feeling” run like an old film reel, flickering warmth and truth. The daughter of Country Music Hall of Fame legend Mel Tillis, and a member of the Grand Ole Opry herself, Tillis’ new music arrives wonderfully unexpected.

The lady practically bursts with soul all through the album, but never without complete composure. She sings better than she ever has. Tillis’ rounded, honeyed notes in the opener, “Looking for a Feeling,” announce the return of an A-list pro tuned into herself, and eliciting awe while wrapped in a magnificent, Muscle Shoals-inspired blanket of soul.

Three different bands of Nashville pros cut three separate sessions to stitch together the album, but the whole of it moves like dancers entwined without pause. “Demolition Angel” rocks with attitude, the thoughts expressed by writer Matraca Berg perfect for the edgy side that Tillis can still emit quite influentially, at 62. A little venom drips from her otherwise gorgeous, sparkling pipes.

But in “Last Summer’s Wine,” those pipes carry a listener away on vibrant, gently soaring wings. The overall beauty of that song alone should make this a contender for best country album of the year. But, so should Tillis’ command of the gushing praise displayed for the queen in “Dolly 1969,” as wry and funky as that one is. Pam Tillis looked around and really went for it here, killing it softly, but with sexy fire all the same. She sure found and relayed some great feelings to know.

–Tom Clarke 

  • Pam Tillis
  • ‘Looking for a Feeling’
  • Label: Stellar Cat
  • Release: April 24, 2020

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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