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Shannon McNally has a timeless, smoke-tinged voice that straddles soul and country genres. She’s no stranger to the valley, having performed here with her band before. During her career she has opened for Stevie Nicks and Ryan Adams, toured with John Mellencamp and Son Volt, but it’s a less-recognizable name that’s on her lips lately. Her latest album, “Small Town Talk,” pays tribute to Bobby Charles, the man behind hits like “See you Later Alligator” and “But I Do.” McNally refers to Charles as “great, but under-appreciated.”
She recorded the album with New Orleans music legend Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack. It was recorded with Charles’ approval and input before his death, offering a posthumous tribute to his career. McNally and Dr. John consulted with Charles before choosing a group of songs that give a broad overview of Charles’ work. McNally’s dark, probing vocals are paired with Dr. John’s sure-handed arrangements on the album.
The inspiration for “Small Town Talk” came from the self-titled album Charles recorded in Woodstock with members of The Band. McNally’s love for that record led her to tell Charles she wanted to revisit it.
“Those songs oriented me musically,” McNally said. “I had so devoured everything that The Band did that finding Bobby was almost a relief. That crowd of musicians had a way of making music that got under my skin in a nagging kind of way.”