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NICOLE ATKINS —GOODNIGHT RHONDA LEE (Single Lock Records)

www.singlelockrecords.com

http://www.nicoleatkins.com

New Jersey-born Nicole Atkins’ career/ life has seen her transcend through a good deal of heartache and waywardness as she struggled to stay sober long enough to build on the good times. Goodnight Rhonda Lee has the Nashville resident of the last ten years speak of her problems and how she is now ready to take life and career forward. ‘This record came to me at a time of deep transition says Atkins. Some days were good, some not so good. What I did gain, though, from starting to make some changes and going forward, putting it out on the table, was a joy in what I do again. Joy in the process, and a newfound confidence that I don’t think I’ve ever had until now. The album title, Goodnight Rhonda Lee also came from those feelings. Rhonda Lee was kind of my alias for bad behaviour, and it was time to put that persona to bed’.

 

On enlisting modern day wrecking crew Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas Atkins ensured her artful creations and generally artistic shaping of her vocals and sound would be in good hands. Enhanced greatly by the subtle accompaniments her work glows, like the golden sunlight of dawn. Beautiful and awash in small hypnotic nuances that cling to you like a limpet on a boat Atkins' music recalls great artists of the past; Candi Staton, Carole King and man she co-wrote the lead off track (“A Little Crazy”), old friend Chris Isaak. What better company could she keep that him!

 

Recorded live to tape in only five days, the sound is real, and though much of the talk it about the above noted “A Little Crazy” the song that blew me away was title-cut “Goodnight Rhonda Lee”. It comes with a killer production, wonderful electric lead, rhythm guitar and percussion; it is the kind of song Isaak would love to get his hands on! But he would be hard pushed to match the vocal performance of Atkins. It doesn’t stop there as she weaves her way through the dramatic “If I Could” and warm and tender “Colors” plus a jazz drenched piano intro of “Brokedown Luck” that soon shifts to a snatch of instrumental work (Garth Hudson-esque keyboards) akin to an old Band classic, and there is more. I love the punchy swagger to her vocals as she calls on pop, rock and singer-songwriter traits in a good old-fashioned way. Her vocals are equal to the instrumental entries as she injects hints of Janis Joplin no less, vocally. She moves around the chessboard, seamlessly. Soul, r&b come into play on “Sleepwalking” as she glides majestically through the song. Prior to her speaking of old habits on jazz etched “A Night For Serious Drinkin”. To close you have the poignant “A Dream Without Pain”, and there is her pop jazz tendered “I Love Living Here (Even When I Don’t)” as she juggles her thoughts on how life really is. 

 

With the release of Goodnight Rhonda Lee Nicole Atkins has certainly come of age. I can’t wait to hear the result and direction her follow up takes and how her career progress.

 

                                                         Maurice Hope          

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
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JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
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Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
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HD
 
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27 pts.
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SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
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Proper Records
KG
 
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Columbia Records
GF
 
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24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
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Ben Reel
22 pts.
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B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
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22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
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22 pts.
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Eight 30 Records
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20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
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21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
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HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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