"Cabin Song" - T. Nile
With its yawning steel guitar and soft snare beat, "Cabin Song" on the one hand says "country" from the get go. And yet the Vancouver-based Tamara Nile, who prefers using just her initial, does not affect a country-music accent, which is something, I'm suddenly realizing as I've been listening to this, that appeals to me. The conjunction of country music sounds with non-country singing has the effect of liberating country from its typically parochial musical constraints. I'm sure there's a place for twangy, cowboy-hatted music but if that sound doesn't call to you, you end up dissociated from certain musical elements that in and of themselves may actually be pretty cool. Combined with Nile's rich, athletic voice and sharp storytelling skills, the steel guitar's ghostly wail is worth hearing as an aural experience, not just as something that says "I am listening to country music."
Nile was brought up in--yes--a cabin on Galiano Island, between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, by musician parents, but the song may not otherwise be autobiographical. It doesn't seem to talk about how she began busking on sidewalks with her multi-instrumentalist father in far-off places like New Orleans and San Diego at the age of six, for instance.
"Cabin Song" is the title track to her brand new EP, self-released last week. Her first full-length CD, At My Table, came out in 2006; her second is due next year.