** The Packet Presents Shonna Tucker and Eye Candy — Saturday, March 15 The Loft at Rueben’s — Doors open at 7 p.m. **
BY JEFF CLARK
After years on the road with the seemingly always-on-tour Drive-By Truckers, bassist and vocalist Shonna Tucker decided it was time for a change of pace in both in her life and her career. So she got a farmhouse near Athens about three years ago with former Trucker John Neff, who also is Tucker’s band mate in Eye Candy, rescued some donkeys, listened to some records from her extensive vinyl collection and wrote the songs that would become her debut album, “A Tell All”, recorded with her new band, Eye Candy.
“These songs came fairly fast for me,” Tucker said. “I started writing them around December of 2012 and we were in the studio recording by May. We went in with , I guess eight of the 10 finished and ready to record and then still writing a couple in the studio.”
The finished product is a little bit Big Star (the power pop opening track “Since Jimmy Came” and the album’s closer, “You Went All the Way”) and plenty of country (“Lonely People,” “Old Fashioned” and “Arielle”.) And as a fan of numerous songwriters, the album is a reflection of Tucker’s influences.
“I really love to study and learn from Bobbie Gentry, Tom T Hall, Carol King, Dolly Parton, Jackson Browne, Merle Haggard…to name a few,” Tucker said. “I did listen to certain albums or even songs to gather inspiration for specific songs we were going in to record. I listened to Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Fancy’ several times through. I remember listening to Jimmy Cliff a lot, too, during that time. And some Stones, Etta James and Merle, too.”
The album’s centerpiece is the track “A Family Dinner,” a humorous look at the good and bad elements of a large scale gathering from which the album’s title was taken (“A tell all family dinner”.) With its rhythm and blues shuffle, funky bass line and slinky organ, the song is reminiscent of the type of music Tucker is familiar with, having been a part of the iconic Muscle Shoals music scene.
“I was born and raised just a few miles up the road in Killen, Ala., and started playing music at a pretty early age,” she said. “I was just flat out lucky to have had the privilege to meet and know early on in my life some of the greatest songwriters and musicians in the world. I was and still am thoroughly fascinated with Muscle Shoals music and the people that make up that wonderful mystery. It makes you feel like nothing else can.”
Although Tucker is not touring like she did during her days with the Truckers, she still enjoys hitting the road with Eye Candy. The band will be playing a three-date stint that starts in Tupelo at the Blue Canoe and ends Saturday in Columbus at the Loft at Rueben’s.
“The live shows are going great,” Tucker said. “We seem to be getting more and more settled in on stage and we just have a really fun time.”