Pamela McNeill Bio
Pamela McNeill has always made music that moves across genres, blending rock, pop, soul and country into a style all her own. Now the Minnesota girl has made some friends in Nashville and brought some of that sound home for her fifth solo release, “Hurtsville, USA.”
Though she wrote most of the songs in her Minneapolis studio, “Hurtsville, USA” reflects Pamela’s recent experiences in the Music City trying new approaches to songwriting and working with other artists and writers like Grammy-winning Bobby E. Boyd, who discovered her on MySpace.
Pamela celebrates the release of “Hurtsville, USA” with a show Sept. 6 at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters, http://chanhassendt.com. The CD will be available Sept. 16.
For her first solo release since 2010, Pamela reconnected with her rocker side, turned up the twang and held onto her signature sincerity for an album that stays true to her Midwestern voice but has a Nashville-inspired vibe – “the good Nashville scene,” as she calls it.
Boyd, a Nashville veteran who won a Grammy for co-writing Rascall Flatts’ No. 1 hit “Bless the Broken Road,” calls Pamela one of the best-kept secrets in the music industry. “Hurtsville, USA” just might put an end to that secret.
From the Loretta Lynn-esque goodbye-bad-husband “Mr. Jones” and banjo-tinged rocker “God Knows” to the big, empowering breakup ballad “Flower,” “Hurtsville, USA” showcases Pamela’s versatility and powerful voice.
A highlight is the hard country “Great Big Truck,” which she co-wrote with Boyd. It has a chart-topping sound and witty lyrics that poke a little fun at the macho side of country culture.
“I needed some levity. I said ‘You know, I want to write a truck song.’ It’s the anti-truck song. It’s just a big sappy song,” she says.
“It’s kind of fun to get back to my rock roots, just let it rip.”
Musically, “Hurtsville, USA” hints at her nostalgia for the 1970s, when small-town radio stations would play a mix of roots rock, top 40, disco and classic country – a sound Boyd is championing called “New ’70s”.
“I love the ’70s. I really relate to that music, arrangement, songwriting. I love the variety that I think you could hear on the radio,” Pamela says.
“Rainy Night in Memphis,” for example, feels like old-fashioned ’70s pop country and has already been recorded by country singer Buffy Lawson of Bomshel fame. UK music magazine Maverick described the song as one of the “thoroughly fantastic gems that cry out hit potential” in its five-star review of Lawson’s 2012 release “I’m Leaving You for Me.”
Lyrically, Pamela delves deeper into territory she has touched on with previous albums – the depression-related issues that have tugged at her for years. She started seeing a therapist a couple of years ago and found a clarity that comes through on “Hurtsville.”
“It’s been a really, really great thing,” she says. “There’s a strength that comes from understanding.”
She addresses it with the honesty that allow her fans to connect emotionally with her music. “Cross My Broken Heart,” for example, promises that things will always be all right no matter how dark they might seem at a given moment. “The Chance,” with its message that if you need to say something to someone, say it before the chance is gone, paints a glimmer of regret with a picture of hope.
“It’s just a really special song in my book.”
Tickets for the Chanhassen show are $20 and available through the box office at (952) 934-1525 or (800) 362-3515, or through the Channhassen’s online ticketing.