CD Review - Stacie Collins "Sometimes Ya Gotta..."

Stacie Collins has been called, “a country fried version of Joan Jett.” While the latter may no doubt figure as an influence, blues harp player Collins’s gritty voice, distinctive phrasing, and relentless energy show her hometown that an ostensible “country”  album, written and cut in contemporary Nashville, can have cojones.

If you’ve ever rocked to the Georgia Satellites (“Keep Your Hands to Yourself,”  “Can’t Stand the Pain”), it’s no surprise that Satellites’ lead singer Dan Baird co-produced, with Collins, this shitkicking mix of honky-tonk, blues and hard southern rock. This is the pair’s second collaboration after The Lucky Spot, Collins’s third CD (2007).

All tunes were co-written by Collins and husband/band bassist Al Collins. Adding heat to this atypical Nashville conflagration is Warner Hodges, guitarist for the legendary punk/honky-tonk band Jason and the Scorchers.

What Hodges does on the Telecaster here begs the question why he’s been an underground legend for two decades. Hodges’s distinctive blues-rock guitar reverberates with surprising licks that span the blues-rock-country stylistic continuum with equal parts taste and drive.

Likewise, drummer Jimmy Lester is currently one of the hottest in the South, bearing comparison to stellar blues and rock beaters like Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd) or Butch Trucks (Allman Brothers). Lester teams with Al Collins on bass to lend the muscular and pliant rhythmic support you rarely find among today’s country or alt-country acts.

The opening track, “Hey Mister,” is a driving number that has somewhat more of a traditional “New Nashville” production feel that most of the other tunes. The lyrics belie the melody, however:  This is Collins’s nose-thumb to Nashville’s label execs who, thus far, have failed to offer her a contract.

Stacie Collins puts a hard spin on another of the most Nashville-sounding tunes on the album, the competent though familiar-sounding beers-and-tears weeper, “It Hurts to Breathe.” On the other hand, “Cool,” the one other ballad, is significantly closer in sound and blues spirit to Memphis or Chicago. Like most of the other tunes, it claims all of Collins’s sensuous musical charms as singer, harpist, and songwriter.  

Some may recall the heyday of “Outlaw Country,” represented by acts including Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, as well as Tanya Tucker and Emmylou Harris. It began as a reaction in the 1960s to the over-produced, treacly music represented by the "Nashville Sound," pioneered by record producers Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley, and Bob Ferguson. It effectively neutralized the mountain and blues roots of classic country/old time music by replacing country fiddling, steel guitars, and "high lonesome" lead vocals with “easy listening” string sections, choral background vocals, and crooning lead vocals. 

Collins plays firmly in the Outlaw tradition – only she rocks a little harder, and with a lot more attitude.

Originally published in Blues Revue, Jan 2011. Written by Michael Cala

Sometimes Ya Gotta…
Rev Records 1003

Views: 387

Comment by Harrisonaphotos on January 4, 2013 at 12:19am

This truly is a great album and has been painfully ignored by the mainstream press. Stacie recorded a live album/DVD in October (review - ) and is currently looking for financing to release it.

Comment by Michael Cala on January 4, 2013 at 9:51am
I agree. One never knows what comes over the transom when you are a CD reviewer for Blues Revue, or any other magazine. I rate this CD as a personal favorite, along with the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir's "Fighting and Onions," Sterling Koch's "Slide Ruler," and the late Coco Robicheaux's "Yeah U Rite." What a pleasure it is to be surprised by music. Thanks for the amplifying comment.
Comment by Kyla Fairchild on January 7, 2013 at 4:28pm

Saw them play in Nashville at the AMA conference a couple years ago and they blew the roof off the place. It was fantastic. Reminds me that I need to check out the record.

Comment by Michael Cala on January 8, 2013 at 10:47am

Another woman who is receiving some great attention is Samantha Fish.  Amazing guitarist,  was only 23 when I reviewed her CD, "Runaway,"   in November 2011.   Here's the link to the review on Blueswax:

She is the next generation in that great tradition of blues and rock performers starting with Bonnie Raitt (or, actually, starting maybe with Memphis Minnie and Sister Rosetta Tharpe!)


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.