“You Were Mine”
Written by Jay Neilson and Tami Neilson
“You Were Mine” is the ferocious lament of a woman who let her guard down, and has nothing but loneliness to show for it.
Tami Neilson is a force of nature on record, with a powerhouse set of pipes that can barely be contained. It’s easy to trace her lineage back to Wanda Jackson, and even to see some commonalities between Neilson and contemporary singers like the late Amy Winehouse.
But what makes Neilson unique is her relentless strength. There are no plaintive wails sprinkled in to her hurricane vocals to signal vulnerability. Her toughness isn’t a facade. It’s her very core.
That’s what makes “You Were Mine” such a revelation to experience. The lyrics on their own document a tremendous heartbreak, with arms that “reach but never touch you in the night.” All of time is measured in terms of this failed relationship: “There’s before, and then there’s after, you were mine.”
It’s easy to imagine how an Adele or a Wynonna would’ve delivered this one: a lot of growling with some choked back tears to remind you of their heart being broken.
Tami Neilson amps up the growls instead, turning in a performance that makes the rafters quake, but that upper lip doesn’t tremble or shake. Any grief she’s feeling takes a back seat to anger, perhaps some of it at herself for letting her guard down in the first place.
“You Were Mine” is a new breakup anthem for those who’ve always side-eyed love, then jumped in against their better judgment, only to have the net pulled out from under them.
Oh, and it’s the best vocal performance of the year. It won’t be topped.