Cheley Tackett To Release ” The Last Live” Album… A Piece Of Country Music History.

Whatever happened to live country music albums? It seems that in recent decades they have been increasingly few and far between, which is a shame for someone like me who loves the raw energy and atmosphere they convey. Maybe check out albums such as Emmylou HarrisAt The Ryman“, Patsy ClineLive At the Cimarron Ballroom” and of course Johnny Cash “At Folsom Prison” if you have any doubts as to their merits. But of course there’s always elements of the unexpected that can come into play and certain pieces of the jigsaw that are impossible to control when recording in a live setting,  and it’s understandably a gamble too far for some artists in an era where “perfect” sadly seems to be the name of the game.  
Fortunately it’s a risk that Nashville – based artist Cheley Tackett was willing to take with her upcoming solo acoustic album “The Last Live” which is set for release on 21st May and the result is the “perfect” live album! She had originally planned for a Spring 2020 release but as she says “something else got released into the world around that time” ! Cheley is a seasoned performer who really thrives on stage and this CD embodies everything I love about a live album. Listening to my advance copy I was really transported to her annual “Birthday Bash” on August 24th 2019 when this was recorded, I was right there with like-minded people, a beer in hand feeling all the emotions… thankfully I can just about remember what that feels like thankfully!  However, not only is this a stunner of an album in its own right, it has also turned out to be a piece of country music history which is something no one involved was able to anticipate as its title refers to the fact that it was the final album recorded live at music city’s legendary venue Douglas Corner which was sadly forced to closed its doors for ever on May 30th 2020,  a victim of the global pandemic. 
A mainstay for songwriters and artists since 1987 as well as Guy Clark’s venue of choice for his first live album in 1996, it makes Cheley’s release a particularly poignant one for all concerned including Douglas Corner’s former owner Mervin Loque who engineered, mixed and mastered the project, his experience and expertise contributing to its fantastic quality . 

This very special release is available to pre-save now on all the usual steaming platform including Spotify https://show.co/6KHg8Mj and Apple Music https://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-last-live/1564004341. Anyone doing so will immediately get the lead single, “Good For Me“, a phenomenal ballad which Cheley says is her most personal write but one I am sure many of us can identify with in some way. “I learned things the hard way time and time again” she sings in this reflective, soul-searching and heartbreaking song which has a lyric video on the way very soon. In addition, if you visit Cheley’s website you can pre-order a physical CD alongside a variety of merch bundles https://cheley-tackett.square.site/
Cheley is an artist we have featured several times here at Belles and Gals and who has been a regular visitor to the UK in recent years, she is a seasoned performer who thrives in a live setting year as well as being a phenomenal guitar player and an incredibly gifted singer/songwriter held in high esteem by her peers. She’s co-written and shared the stage with the likes of good friends Ashley McBryde, Brandy Clark,Erin Enderlin, Randall Clay and Nicole Witt to name just a few. Anyone who has been fortunate to see Cheley play live will testify to her engaging stage presence, and to quote the afore-mentioned Mervin Loque her “songs and performances can leave even strangers feeling as if they have a personal connection with her“. This is something that comes across so well on this album, with the artist and the audience seeming to feed off one another’s energy and emotions throughout.  
But the audience contributed to this release in another, and rather unique, way too, which you’ll hear Cheley explain at the start of the recording . She really dislikes making set lists so instead wrote the names of the songs she had decided to perform on scraps of paper, put them in a bag and they got played in the order they were randomly picked out by those attending the show.  Her reactions to how this panned out are of course captured on the recording, and also interspersed between the songs themselves are some highly amusing stories told in her own inimitable way  (wait till you hear “Aunt Helen and the Dancing Couple“!) and explanations of the inspiration behind many of the writes, all part of what makes a live recording so very special.  
Another feature of a live album which I love and which Cheley mentions during the performance is that it offers an artist the opportunity to include songs which may not have been a “fit” for any previous studio releases.  She is a  prolific writer and has a myriad of unrecorded songs for exactly this reason, several of which have none-the-less become fan favourites having been performed at shows over the years or her regular live streams including the hilarious “Big Hair” and “I Like You A little Drunk“, their inclusion at this show proving popular choices judging by the reactions they received.
It always astounds me how artists can switch their feelings so well during performances according to the song, and at the other end of the spectrum there’s some of her really heartfelt,  thought provoking compositions on the track listing. Cheley has a deep, rich voice which she controls so well and which is showcased particularly perfectly on songs such as the incredible story-telling song  “My Best Dress”, “$2 Bill”  “The Healer” and closer “Penny Wishes“, during which you can hear a pin drop before the appreciative crowd explode into well-deserved applause and vocal appreciation for what they have been fortunate enough to be part of.  
Yes, this album will take your emotions on a rollercoaster ride, it has all the feels and made me miss real-life concerts even more than ever right now. But despite that… or maybe because of that… I absolutely love it!! 
 The Last Live” Track Listing (those with no writer credits are introductions, live show banter and storytelling) 
1. The Universe Has an Incredible Sense of Humor
2. Up Here (Writers: Lisa Christian & Cheley Tackett ) 
3. Sad Songs Make Me Happy
4. Play the One I Like (Writers: Rick Tiger, Cheley Tackett & Nicole Witt)
5. Prolific People
6. $2 Bill (Writers: Mark Stephen Jones & Cheley Tackett)
7. Big Hair (Writers: Ashley McBryde, Cheley Tackett & Nicole Witt)
8. Feeling Pretty Amorous
9. I Like You a Little Drunk (Writers: Randall Clay & Cheley Tackett)
10. Aunt Helen & the Dancing Couple
11. Jerusalem Ridge (Writer: Cheley Tackett)
12. The Room Got Silent
13. When We Knew It All (Writer: Cheley Tackett)
14. Homegrown (Writer: Cheley Tackett)
15. The Healer (Writer: Randall Clay & Cheley Tackett)
16. National Television Debut
17. Fried Chicken (Writers: Lisa Christian & Cheley Tackett)
18. Kill Somebody in a Song
19. Save Yourself (Writers: Lisa Carver, Steff Mahan & Cheley Tackett)
20. Stay Clever
21. Feelin’ a Little Lonely (Writer: Cheley Tackett)
22. My Best Dress (Writers: Randall Clay, Ashley McBryde & Cheley Tackett)
23. Good for Me (Writer: Cheley Tackett)
24. Penny Wishes (Writer: Cheley Tackett)
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)
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