Shonna Tucker and Eye Candy

A Tell All

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Most folks first became aware of Shonna Tucker when she signed on as bassist with the Drive-By Truckers, debuting on 2004's The Dirty South, but it wasn't until 2008's Brighter Than Creation's Dark that she stepped forward as a songwriter, and tunes like "Dancing Ricky" and "Home Field Advantage" showed she had a real knack for creating small but pointed sketches of affairs of the heart. In 2013, Tucker stepped out on her own, and her first album with her band Eye Candy, A Tell All, shows that she can fill a whole album with the sort of gems she showed off one or two at a time with the DBTs. These songs move back and forth between country, R&B, and folk influences, but Tucker always sounds proudly, defiantly Southern, not just in terms of her music and the solid, easily versatile support of her band (featuring fellow DBTs veteran John Neff) but in stories that deal with love, family, and relationships both good and bad in a manner that's long on home truth and short on BS. "Since Jimmy Came" and "Linda Please" offer two perspectives on how a child can change a woman's life, "A Family Dinner" and "I Brought a Pie" deal with the difficulties of family relationships, especially when gossip and hard feelings get in the way, "Old Fashioned" and "You Went All the Way" say a lot in a few words about the restorative power of love, and "Lonely People" is a sweetly heartbreaking meditation on emotional isolation. Tucker's lyrics are often pithy and to the point, but they also catch a wealth of feelings with striking accuracy, and her vocals are the perfect match for these songs, just pretty enough to communicate and just human enough to make them sound nothing but real. Delivering ten songs in less than 35 minutes, one of the few flaws of A Tell All is that there ought to be more of it, but what's here is lovely stuff, and hopefully this is the beginning of a long and fruitful career for Tucker and her new crew.

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