“Hi, I’m Tanya Tucker, I’m 15, you’re gonna hear from me,” read the strapline from a Rolling Stone magazine cover in 1974. Back then, Tucker was a country music prodigy with a dramatic vibrato. The year after the cover story, she signed a record label deal worth $1.4m. The hits kept coming, but the Texan developed a wild streak. She took up drinking and drugs, and also fell prey to an even worse vice in Nashville eyes — she tried to become a rock singer.
The voice that rang out so confidently in the 1970s has fallen into disuse: While I’m Livin’ is her first album in 10 years. She has been drawn back to the studio by the singer-songwriters Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, who have co-produced her new songs and co-written them with brothers Phil and Tim Hanseroth.
Backed by unfussy country music, Tucker’s vocals are the main attraction. The vibrato is gone, replaced by grainier tone. But the power is still there, wielded with a bit more effort. Lyrics depict her as a rare female entry in country’s outlaw tradition. “High Ridin’ Heroes” is a portrait of a doughty rodeo woman who “knows how it feels to be riding that hot streak and drunk on some back street”. Tucker sings the lines with fellow feeling and gravelly kind of indomitability.
‘While I’m Livin’ ’ is released by Fantasy
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