Former Epic recording artist Tammy Cochran, best known for her autobiographical top 10 hit ‘Angels In Waiting’ in 2001, is back with a new self-released album. Having experienced mainstream success and a stint with an independent label (Shanachie released her Where I Am album in 2006), she now claims to have no desire to be back on a major label, and is concentrating on making music she can be proud of. I think she has achieved that aim with 30 Something And Single, which is a very good example of modern country which is still rooted in tradition. It may be the best work Tammy has produced, and it is certainly her best since her debut.
Tammy has written or co-written all the material apart from a respectful cover of Tammy Wynette’s trademark song, ‘Stand By Your Man’, which is very faithful to the original. She does not quite have her namesake’s heartbreaking vocal quality, although her throaty soprano is capable of conveying real emotional depth on her own songs. These range from the deeply personal to some with a dry sense of humor which she has not previously shown on record.
The most personal song here is ‘Half The World Away (Shawn’s Song)’, which is about Tammy’s experience adopting a baby from
. Other country songs have been written about adoption, but this is the first I have heard on the international variety, and, rather like ‘Angels In Waiting’, which was written about Tammy’s brothers who died young (and gets a pointless remake here), it escapes accusations of sentimentality by its truthfulness. Addressed to her little boy, it is a tender expression of her feelings awaiting his arrival: “You don’t have my eyes, But in your eyes I can see my life And all my dreams I thought were gone Came true when you were born You’re the answer to every prayer You’re the reason God put me here To love an angel from half the world away”.
Tammy does not forget her son’s birth mother:
“When you’re grown I hope she’ll know The man that you’ve become And I will thank her once again For letting you go and making my life complete For bringing all the happiness Without you I would have missed ‘Cause you’re her little angel too, Half the world away”
The title track, one of three fine songs co-written with Gary Harrison, is a third-person look at being single again in your thirties and dealing with a scary world of dating (“playing a new game she don’t understand“), a heartfelt ballad which Tammy sings with feeling. The protagonist of this song could be one of the targets of the would-be Casanova stuck somewhere in 1979 who is depicted in the withering ‘He Really Thinks He’s Got It’, from the same writing team:
“He really thinks he’s got it, what women want He probably was a looker in his younger days Now he’s a walkin’ talkin’ mid-life crisis cliche He really thinks he’s got it But he don’t get it.”
The protagonist is a match for him, though, pouring her beer over him when he starts feeling her up in the bar, saying in no uncertain terms: “Man, whats the matter with you? I bet you’ve tasted pepper spray a time or two.”
The third Harrison co-write is the sprightly ‘It’s All Over But the Leaving’, a look at a relationship which is over in all but name, with no-one to blame: “All that’s missing is one last sad goodbye I don’t blame you, I don’t blame myself, There’s nothing that we did wrong I don’t know who put the fire out I guess it went out on its own We don’t want to hurt each other So we stay and put it off another day.”
Dating really doesn’t seem to be working out for Tammy, based on many of her songs here. I liked the tart ‘He Found Jesus’, about a jerk of an ex who’s “finally found someone who’ll love him no matter what he does” (naturally, no woman could put up with him). ‘The One That Got Away’ is a fun mid-tempo tale of missing out on catching the perfect man using a well-realized fishing metaphor, which Tammy wrote with Patricia Gray (with whom she wrote much of the material on her Shanachie release): “Now some other woman’s married to my husband (the one that got away) I saw the picture in the Bass Boat Trader, couple of you on the center page I’m standin’ here wearin’ hip-high waders, haven’t had a bite in days… Now I’m the queen of catch and release I’ve been told there’s plenty more fish in the sea.”
Another good song is ‘Let It End’, written with Stacy Widelitz, as Tammy addresses an ex who just won’t let go: “I’ve been tryin’ to let myself love again Just when I thought someone new You hauled me back in You need to let me go for good this time If you really wanted to be my friend You’d let it end I know you have the best of intentions Your heart’s in the right place But if you cared at all You wouldn’t even call
A couple of the songs venture into more pop-country territory, and these work less well: the loungy ballad ‘Closer’ (written with Aaron Scherz) gets distinctly overwrought. ‘You Don’t Want To Love Too Much’, written with Jon Henderson, has a good lyric but a rather boring melody, as Tammy addresses a commitment-phobic lover, concluding bitterly, “You might be someone that I can’t live without But I will.”