What is the definition of a handful? It’s literally a quantity that fills the hand, more metaphorically a small number or amount, or more metaphorically still “a person or group that is very difficult to deal with or control” – which won’t be the case (probably) with Nashville based Nicki Bluhm who returns to the UK at the end of January for three shows in support of her lovely new album ‘To Rise You Gotta Fall’ out now on Compass Records. Bluhm will play a showcase at the AMAUK Awards in Hackney on January 29th and play Manchester’s Night And Day Cafe on Jan 30th, before heading to Scotland for an appearance at Celtic Connections on February 1st.
‘To Rise You Gotta Fall’ was recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillips Recording studio and features two co-writes with Ryan Adams and a Dan Penn cover. For these live band analog sessions, Bluhm brought in producer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell), and the studio band included Will Sexton (guitar), Ross-Spang (guitars), Ken Coomer (drums and percussion), Al Gamble (Hammond B3), Rick Steff (piano) and Dave Smith (bass), with Reba Russell and Susan Marshall (background singers), Sam Shoup (string arrangements) and various special guests.
“These songs are quite personal,” Bluhm says. “They are the conversations I never got to have, the words I never had the chance to say, and the catharsis I wouldn’t have survived without.” Bluhm’s divorce, along with the need to challenge herself, inspired the West Coast native to make her spur-of-the moment, cross-country move to Nashville in 2017. “Nashville was inspiring because of all the songwriting going on here,” Bluhm says. “When I would come to Nashville on writing trips it was just percolating…it was intoxicating. So I very hastily, in a matter of days, decided to move. I just had this gut feeling.”