Nikki Hill “Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists”
Nikki Hill may be a newcomer to you and indeed this is only her second album. But it is quite clear that she is delivering a sound which can only have been perfected by extensively touring. As the title of this album may suggest, it’s a release that promises to deliver songs that are both powerful and emotive. Everything you hear and read suggests that Nikki Hill is no shrinking violet.
It’s inevitable that the first thing which will strike you about this album is the brilliant vocals of Nikki Hill. The title track opens up the album and her voice just shines, managing to be both powerful and soulful. It moves from that smoothness to a more raucous style on tracks like “Oh My” where it has you thinking of the classic voice of Tina Turner in her younger (good!) days. Indeed, the sound of songs like those and the quite brilliant “(Let Me Tell You ‘Bout) LUV” see good time rock n roll combined with a traditional rhythm and blues sound.
The ability to switch styles and influences is a key strength of this release. Numbers like “Struttin’” and “Hotshot” have a bluesy rock n roll swagger that reminds us of when The Black Crowes first hit the scene as cocky, strutting youngsters. Then you get “And I Wonder” a slow temp number which has a more voodoo feel to it and along with “I’m Gonna Leave You” a sound which has a rockabilly flavour.
Then the beautiful blues soul ballad “Nothing With You” will have you reminiscing over the loss of a vocal talent Amy Winehouse. Then you’ll be up and dancing again to the pure rock n roll of “Scratch Back” and the cover of the classic “Twistin’ The Night Away”. These songs end the album with a real party feel.
It’s great to have an artist who can deliver a variety of sounds but also back that up with a really strong sense of personal identity and character. There’s a real strength to the way Nikki Hill delivers these songs. It also leaves us desperate to hear these songs being bashed out live..another clue as to how good this album is.