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Tami Neilson - Kingmaker - Vinyl LP
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Tami Neilson - Kingmaker

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2022 now brings Tami Neilson's 5th album, Kingmaker. Recorded at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios, Kingmaker was born of the pandemic. A moment when women were struggling. Frontline workers fighting for human lives. Essential services providers. Disproportionately affected by furlough: a “she-cession,” analysts termed it.

Women put their dreams and careers on hold to care for their families and homeschool children. They mobilised online to bring awareness to domestic abuse and systemic inequalities. They marched in the streets for the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the remains of more than 1,700 indigenous children found in mass graves of former residential schools in Canada.

The songs of Kingmaker exposes industry systems, exploding patriarchal structures of the industry, society, and family. These are not new themes for Tami – both her 2018 album Sassafrass! and 2020 Chickaboom! called attention to misogyny and patriarchal structures. But Kingmaker draws out this out theme further. In the opening, title track, Tami calls out the men that control the industry and create “kings” of its male artists. But the song flips the script: with the cinematic flair of a Bond film, Tami puts women in the seat of power. Speaking for a collective of kingmakers, speaking sharply, speaking with irritation, she challenges what bell hooks (Talking Back) terms the politics of domination that render women nameless and voiceless in the industry. This is not a breakdown or a collapse. This is a revolt.

Tami questions gender roles and expectations of women in society. She shines a line on misogyny and sexual misconduct that pervades the music industry. Before they’re too grown to see... She sings of the underestimation of women, of their strength, power, fierceness, and resilience in the face of structural, and cultural barriers to their full participation in society.

Grief is central to this narrative. There’s the grief of loss. After finding a work tape of her father Ron Neilson of music for an unfinished song, Tami wrote the lyrics that completed “I Can Forget” – a song about being caught unexpectedly by grief. This theme continues in Tami’s duet with Willie Nelson on “Beyond the Stars.” There’s also the grief that comes with realising that the music that runs in your blood is tainted and poisonous for women and people of colour.


  1. Kingmaker
  2. Careless Woman
  3. Baby, You're a Gun
  4. King Of Country Music
  5. Beyond the Stars feat. Willie Nelson
  6. Green Peaches
  7. Mama's Talkin
  8. I Can Forget
  9. The Grudge
  10. Ain't My Job

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