Nicole Atkins “Goodnight Rhonda Lee”
We’re a bit late in discovering Nicole Atkins as she has already released a number of albums. This particular record has been written against a background of personal challenges for her. Whilst difficult times often produce great albums, we understand it does represent a slight musical shift.
The first thing that really grabs you on this album is Nicole’s sumptuous voice. There’s an incredible combination of warmth, vulnerability, feeling and power in these songs. It’s most apparent on the slower, more restrained, numbers like “A Little Crazy”, “Colors” and “I Love Living Here (Even When I Don’t)”. There’s a sparseness to the music on these songs which just allows her voice to shine. Indeed, such is the impact you wonder if, finally, there might be someone to follow in the footsteps of Amy Winehouse.
However, this is not just a release for Nicole to ‘show off’ that voice (as good as it might be!). It also has some damn fine tunes on it. That includes the seductive shuffle of “Darkness Falls So Quiet” and the soft, almost country, lament of “Goodnight Rhonda Lee”.
Don’t go thinking this is purely a slow and reflective album though. You also have the brilliant full on soul funk of “Listen Up”. Indeed, with songs like the irresistible “Broken Luck” and the sprightly, summer jazz feel of “Sleepwalking” there’s plenty to appease your soulful side and get you up and dancing. The album ends with the powerful ballad of “A Dream Without Pain”, a final reminder of both the quality of song writing and the brilliance of that voice
This is a strong and powerful collection of songs which demand your time and attention. In the ideal world this is the sort of music you want to listen to on a cold dark night through a beautiful sound system. An album to immerse yourself in rather than just listen to.