Nicole Atkins “Italian Ice” (Single Lock Records, 2020)

Named after her favourite sweet treat in Asbury Park and her alter-ego while shooting dice on the Jersey Shore, ‘Italian Ice’ is the latest album from the extremely talented Nicole Atkins. The album features a wide array of equally brilliant talent, including members of the Bad Seeds, Dap-Kings, the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Seth Avett and more.

The record itself has a jazz and blues feel to it, particularly seen in ‘AM Gold’. It has a real 50s vibe as well with the airy voices that are showcased going hand in hand with ‘Domino’ which has this great funky and groovy vibe to it. You really start to think that Atkins was born in the wrong era! However, the music is a bit too loud on this track in particular and Nicole’s voice is almost a bit lost on it.

Still, we really see Atkins’ excellent vocals on ‘Far From Home’ which makes you feel transported to another time. This, alongside ‘These Old Roses’, creates this girl-group sound that Atkins describes some of her music as. It really feels more akin to Bett Midler than anything else.

Americana is filled with a variety of different styles, and here we see a well-designed mish mash of styles with something for everyone. ‘Never Going Home Again’ has a much more folksy and country slow vibe, whilst ‘Forever’ feels much more modern in comparison, having a synth-pop feel to it. It does feel very different to the rest of the album though, and is almost Years and Years-esque.

Overall, ‘Italian Ice’ takes you on a journey around all things Americana. The album’s culmination, ‘In the Splinters’ is a grand jazz piece, which is the type of song that is at the core of everything Atkins has on offer here and what she is best at.

An album that highlights the breadth of the Americana genre
6/10

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