mishap coverFebruary 2009
Tamara Hey - Miserably Happy
HEY! LISTEN TO THIS
Jonathan Berger
Boog City / Urban Folk Magazine, New York City

"Tamara Hey deserves better after spending well over a decade toiling in the East Village. She's unassuming and polite and you can't tell that she's one of the best songwriters in town. Her work is excellent, with memorable melodies and literate lyrics that stay with the listener long after an album has faded. Her recordings [there are two prior albums] have always been good, with wonderful arrangements influenced by husband, Henry Hey. (Between the happy loving couple and producer, Art Hays, they should create a project called The Hey Hey Hays.) In an alternate universe, these three are a hit-making machine. Songs like Miserably Happy's opener 'You Wear Me Out' (a testimonial to numerous reasons a couple can thrive, many having nothing to do with love) top the charts. and get people humming while discussing the witty images and thoughtful situations. We may well have a window into that alternate reality; it’s called country.

The last few years have seen Hey make pilgrimages to Nashville, where she’s practiced collaborative songwriting with country professionals. Always able to collect inspiration from others, Hey has produced in Miserably Happy a series of songs that add a serious country songwriting lilt. While her sound has always been a spirited amalgamation of influences, she remains her own animal. An impressive and thoughtful creator, Hey’s a songwriter’s songwriter, composing insightful stories with characters far distant from her own personality, but who nonetheless ring quite true.

'Somebody’s Girl,' for example, is a tale of an optimistic woman looking for a love as if it were a lifelong, spiritual quest. The long-married Hey may be able to reach deep into memory for inspiration; the song does not read as a recent diary entry.

The perceptive 'Round Peg' seems to more clearly delve into history as source material. The title character, a high school friend of the singer, lives truer than the narrator whom Hey portrays. The song features a variety of hooks, from an intro that’s reminiscent of the Stones’ 'The Last Time' to a chorus sounding vaguely like 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight,' and a bridge that could possibly be from The Cars’ canon. 'Round Peg, I cut you out with everything else good ounce by ounce …” the narrator recalls in the bridge, before stating, “I want to be you, laughing out loud but I’m bitter at the center and no fun to be a round.'

'Isabelle,' another ode to an old friend, regularly repeats, “Isabelle, I thought I knew you very well.” This song sits in judgment of the woman in the title, who is so submerged in her current relationship that she’s willing to close the door on intelligence and friendship.

It may well be that same character Isabelle who sings 'David #3,' an ode to the wrong guy. 'I hate your stupid laugh, I hate your Red Sox hat. Despite all of that …' She never clarifies the title, which presumably refers to how the title subject is not the first mistake the narrator has made. “Every night I dreamed about Mister Perfect,” Hey sings before adding in a Bangleslike chorus, “' looked everywhere around ‘til I found … David number three.'

Hey’s story-telling chops have always been strong (prior album cuts like 'Oscar and Bud' and 'Up in the Air' clearly attest to that), but her studying at the altar of country has clearly served her well. Next up for the artist: she’s working on children’s songs. Good as she is now, with the successful steps taken on Miserably Happy, who knows what tomorrow might bring?"

Tamara Hey
Miserably Happy
Trevor Dye
"Tamara Hey, a New York City-based singer/songwriter, follows her 2005 debut Right This Minute with an expertly crafted sophomore release, Miserably Happy.  Refreshingly, Hey - all smiles in the two photos on the cover of the CD jacket - brings lighthearted optimism to a singer/songwriter genre often skewed toward the brooding and depressive.  In the latest record, Hey has surrounded herself with an individually noteworthy cast of accompanying musicians: producer and guitarist Art Hays linked with Matchbox Twenty and Carbondale, Keyboardist (and husband) Henry Hey known from his work with Rod Stewart and Jeff Watts, drummer Brian Delaney of NY Dolls, and bassist Tim Lefebvre whose played alongside the likes of James Taylor and Patty Austin.  Amid such a talented backdrop, Tamara Hey's joyously soulful voice and deeply contemplative lyrics stand out, allowing her emotive ability to forge a personal connection between listener and song.  While there is obviously an immense level of talent, Hey has also been formally educated in the elite settings of both the Performing Arts School and the renowned Berklee College of Music.

Miserably Happy blends humor, sarcasm, wit, and introspection to create a feel good album with tons of pop vibes.  There's too too much of a full band sound to be truly classify it as a singer/songwriter record, rather the album falls somewhere in the realm of folk rock, AAA, with subtle hints of country sensibilities.  Her diverse sound comes from a wide range of influences, but her interests seem primarily rooted in the realm of classic rock and its extensions, proclaiming herself as a Beatles-fanatic with a deep appreciation for the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, ELO, and Suzanne Vega.  Her voice echoes the same spinnability and freedom that characterizes the era of the flower children.  “Miserably Happy” the album's titled track, rides a pleasant but bare melody, yet Hey's ability to elevate a simple phrase “I'm so miserably happy” into a catchy hook transforms it into one of those songs that seems to linger in your mind long after the track is done.  Hey can best be described as a blending of Aimee Mann's story telling prowess, Dido's sincerity, and KT Tunstall's poppy angst.  While the CD will certainly have you bobbing your head with a smile, I imagine the real pleasure to come with seeing Hey and her extremely talented band play a live set.  She currently plays a majority of shows throughout the New York City region, but as momentum gains behind this talented songstress, keep an eye for shows popping up throughout the Northeast region."