Nicole Atkins – Goodnight Rhonda Lee
The New Jersey native wears her legacy influences with pride, but ever since the release of 2007's Neptune City, Nicole Atkins has toyed with history with a keen and sympathetic eye. Anyone can present an old head on young shoulders but the pop stylings of that debut – think Rumours meets prime Orbison – confirmed she knew when to give and when to take. As ever, it's the songcraft, carried by that formidable voice, that fires Atkins' creative impetus. 'Hope the blues are gonna rescue me,' she sings on Colors: an intimate and deeply affecting ‘stars from the gutter’ piece of unflinching self-assessment.
Elsewhere, the no-fuss recording (five days, live to tape) brings the bigger tunes to life: the elegant groove of Darkness Falls So Quiet; the title track’s classic country clip; A Little Crazy, a soaring ballad that tips a nod to her debut’s epic War Torn. Goodnight Rhonda Lee was recorded at a time of “deep transition” and no little personal crisis, Atkins leaving her home town for Nashville while battling personal demons and tending her seriously ill father. The result is intimate and arresting. On her last UK tour, she would begin and end the show in the audience, performing unamplified with just her guitar. This record – up there with her finest work – affirms that connection and more.
Listen to: Darkness Falls So Quiet