Nicole Atkins “Goodbye Rhonda Lee” (Single Lock Records, 2017)

It’s not unreasonable to wonder who Rhonda Lee is, and why the ex-queen of Asbury Park and new resident of Nashville is bidding her farewell. Nicole Atkins provides the answer – it’s herself, or at least her worst half. Having struggled with some sobriety issues in recent years Nicole Atkins took the pledge and this album is a tangible result of her abilities returning as her non-drinking days increased in number. Nicole Atkins has a distinctive voice made for the classic soulful songs that she sings – it’s a rich sound redolent of any number of one name sixties greats, Aretha, Patsy and Dusty come to mind. This is nowhere more apparent than on the album opener – the soon to be a classic A Little Crazy which bears back to back playing with Patsy Cline’s version of Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hit. There are distinctive touches that came from friend and co-writer Chris Isaak but it’s Nicole Atkins’ voice that is the star of the song – quavering with emotion and soaring to dramatic crescendos as Atkins’ nurses her broken heart by “Walking / Spend a lot of time Walking / That’s what people do / Getting over you”, not that it’s working, as she admits “please / if you see me cry / I apologise / I’m a little crazy, crazy, crazy”. If this was on a juke box in the kind of bar where you go to drown your sorrows then it’d have been punched to play endlessly.

It’s a lot for the rest of the album to live up to, but Nicole Atikins gives it her best shot. There are plenty of other superb songs – Brokedown Luck staggers slowly into life, before picking up speed and emerging as a horn rich stab of soul. I Love Living Here (Even When I Don’t) see’s Atkins again perambulating whilst suffering from a broken heart “every time I pass by please don’t feel obliged / We don’t have to say “hi” every single time / Just walk on by” It’s soft and moody and has a bit of a Lee Hazlewood feel to it in the conflicted emotions and repressed anger. In complete musical contrast Sleepwalking skips along like a gushing of positive emotions, but it’s a trick of the light – Nicole Atkins might be wearing a smile but actually she’s just going through the motions, trying to fool everyone but “sleepwalking, around the world I used to dream in”.

A lot of credit for the album’s superb groove has to be given to Atkins’ hot band – Niles City Sound – who cut the album with her live to tape in just five days. Sure, it’s a retro-sound, but it’s a retro-sound that has bouncing guitar lines, snappy percussion, big bass notes and punching horns. Anyone who appreciates what Dap-Tone do will want to hear what Nicole Atkins does.

https://soundcloud.com/nicole-atkins/brokedown-luck-1

7/10
7/10

Summary

Nicole Atkins creates the perfect soundtrack for a heartache, and provides a genuine cold stone classic of a song in the form of A Little Crazy.

About Jonathan Aird 2689 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments