Tami Hart: No Light in August

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By Kat Iudicello

Mr. Lady Records received a tape of 4-track recordings from a young woman in high school named Tami Hart. The story goes like this: Kaia Wilson of The Butchies and her crew at Mr. Lady, including her business and life partner, experimental film-maker Tammy Rae Carland, listened to the tape in the car and fell in love with Hart’s haunting music. They put Hart on their compilation release entitled The New Women’s Music Sampler, and fans apparently felt the same way as they did listening to Hart’s 4 track tape. As a result, Mr. Lady has issued Tami Hart’s debut release, No Light in August. Hart should be riding on a cloud, for now she is in the wonderful company of great bands and musicians: Le Tigre (with ex-Bikini Kill member Kathleen Hanna), The Haggard, The Butchies, and Sarah Dougher. Mr. Lady is one of bright spots in new music. Whether the groups or singers are punk or indie, they are all anti-mainstream hip, political, and good—really good. Check this label out, plus get access to great films, at www.mrlady.com.

Folks at Mr. Lady must be feeling pretty high right now, too. No Light in August is a fantastic album. It features appearances by Chris Stamey and Robin Landy, The Butchies, and some backing vocals by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, so you know the harmonies are solid. Hart’s acoustic guitar work is exemplary, and her voice is absolutely lovely—empowering, haunting, angry, knowing, strong, dangerous, sweet, rough. Hart’s voice has been critically acclaimed in the press, garnering comparisons to the vocal work of Stevie Nicks and Fiona Apple. Her sound recalls the best of both and so much more, even a lovely twist of Nina Simone. Hart has a depth of soul in her voice that moves you. It reaches out and wraps its fingers around you with passion, yearning, and strength.

“Drunken Love Song” calls for the girl she loves to be with her as she is, regardless of the risks. The next track, “Burnout,” is a slow, grinding song that mourns wisely for a friend. “Obsessing Myself” rocks, insisting upon good self love and pride and strength in the midst of misunderstanding and being placed on the outside. The guitar work on this song is hot. “You’re No Good” stands up to mistreatment through grief, anger, and strength. “The Kids That Call Us Clowns” is full of self knowing and demands strength in the midst of others’ ignorance. “I’m The Girl” is a lilting, haunting reach for someone that seems to be disappearing. “Disdained” is like dragging your finger along the edge of a lake, following a leaf that fell there. “Disclosed” builds with passion and an edge that comes from a screaming electric guitar. “When the Time Comes” consists of honey harmonies, and “I Don’t Care” recalls classic, early Melissa Etheridge riffs. The acoustic guitar work is solid on “Lucky Me,” and “Re-birth #1” features great electric guitar and drum work that grows and then explodes.

Tami Hart’s No Light in August is simply wonderful. Her lyrics are smart, and the music they flow through is addicting, moving, strengthening. If you can’t find it at a record shop near you, then e-mail Mr. Lady and demand it.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/harttami-no/