|With the voice akin to mythical sirens that enchanted unsuspecting sailors, New Orleans’ chanteuse, Tiffany Pollack, will lure our hearts and souls with her Nola Blue solo debut, Bayou Liberty. The acclaimed singer songwriter weaves her way through the twelve original tunes skillfully stepping into the roles of blues belter, country balladeer, cabaret singer, jazz diva and soul sister, navigating a wide range of genres, styles, and emotional terrain with ease. Joining Pollack on this quest are a wrecking crew of the finest players from New Orleans including Brandon Bunious on guitar, Stu Odom on bass, drummer Ian Pettillo, along with Christopher Johnson on saxophone and Eric Lewis adding pedal steel on two tracks.
Pollack and Co. teamed up with fellow Nola Blue artist John Németh, tagging the BMA award winner to produce the album and lend his harmonica skills to the opening track. The project was recorded in less than a week by Adam Hill and Scott Bomar (Memphis-based musician, Emmy Award-winning film composer, Grammy-nominated music producer, and recording engineer) at Electraphonic Studios in Memphis, the source of many authentic albums. Recording to tape captured the heart and soul of Pollack and her bandmates in a pure and magical way.
Pollack steps into the shoes of Ma Rainey for the opening number “Spit On Your Grave,“ delivering the scathing prewar blues with all the piss-n-vinegar she learned from the late great Queen of the Blues, while Németh spars with Brunious’ slide and Johnson’s saxophone over a deep funeral march shuffle. She then poses the question, “can you ever go home again?” during the gently swinging “Colors,” waxing poetically on her childhood without the Clement Keller nostalgia. Pollack chastises an old friend on the snarky ragtime number “Crawfish And Beer,“ a tune she had been kicking around for years; here given a fresh take. Plenty of country music comes out of the South, so it’s no surprise Pollack slips easily into the fluid tones of “Mountain,” a sweet Western swing giving heartfelt testimony to one of the heroes in her life.
The crew takes a trip across town to Soulsville for Pollack to demonstrate her power on the Stax-styled “My Soul My Choice.” The gutbucket blues “Devil In The Darkness,” has a grinding edge and features sinister guitar leads, snarling saxophone and scorching vocals. Pollack leads the ensemble with her ukulele on several tracks, setting the sound palette in a unique slant. The playful rebuke of critics and would-be suitors on ”Sassy Bitch” demonstrates her rapier wit, followed by the French Quarter flavored “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” and the sentimental tome of lost love “Hourglasses.” The honky-tonk lullaby, ”Baby Boys,” is a remarkable piece of songwriting that evokes classic Americana images and echoes John Prine and Townes Van Zandt. The slinky “Livin’ For Me” features more great growling saxophone from Johnson and lyrics of self-empowerment. The set ends with the bayou rumba, “Do It Yourself,“ spelling out the manifesto that has guided Pollack through her storied career.
This enticing collection of southern music, and storytelling, Bayou Liberty, will shine a light on Tiffany Pollack and Co. as rising talents.
Rick J Bowen
Tiffany Ann Pollack is New Orleans. She’s the beauty that lies deep down within old pain – the letting go and kicking your heels up despite it all that defines the most mysterious American city. She’s been a foster daughter. A teen mom. A mortician. And when she sings, she’s a fluttering melody that slaps you with a smile. Raised north of the city in Slidell LA, on Bayou Bonfouca, just off the ditch-lined Bayou Liberty Road, she got her musical genes from a momma she didn’t meet until she was 25. Early on it was all-too obvious to her adopted family that the music of Southeast Louisiana was growing in her like a swamp iris reaching up through the shadows to sunbathe.
Tiffany got her start performing with New Orleans music royalty, the drummer Russell Batiste, after happening to rent an apartment to him and his then-wife Rita on Tchoupitoulas Street in 2007. She formed a group named Beaucoup Crasseux with Rita and played grimy clubs like the Banks Street Bar in Mid-City. Before long she was dipping in and out of all kinds of groups from jazz to metal, including Ph Fred’s, The Round Pegs, The Consortium of Genius, High Voltage, The New Orleans Steamcog Orchestra and Dapper Dandies. However, with each gig she felt the pull of the 9-to-5 world. While trying to choose between training to be a cosmetologist or an EMT, she settled on Mortuary Service, remembering the experience of seeing an aunt at an open casket funeral looking nothing like her normal self.
Tiffany was a natural at comforting families and caring for the recently departed. But when she came home after a long day, she had nothing left for her husband, Andy, her son Augie, and daughters Rosy and Daisy. It was time for a change, and so she turned her attention fully to the music wafting around the city that raised her. Some years earlier she finally got to know more of her birth family, who were scattered across the South from Columbia, South Carolina, where her mother, Margaret Ward – a jazz singer and bassist – had ended up, to Alexandria, La., where her uncle, Charles Ward, an accomplished Americana guitarist, and other musical relatives lived. She learned that her musical roots run generations deep – her maternal grandmother was an opera singer, cellist and pianist and her grandfather a clarinetist.
A family reunion gig with her cousin Eric Johanson led to a contract with Nola Blue. Released in 2019 and recorded at the Music Shed in New Orleans, Blues In My Blood, turned heads across the blues world and was awarded Best Blues/Rock Album and Best Female Vocalist at the Global Music Awards; Best Blues Song (“Blues In My Blood”) at the Independent Music Awards; and Best Story Song (“Michael”) at the American Songwriting Competition.