|Nicole Atkins||Goodnight Rhonda Lee|
Nicole Atkins — Goodnight Rhonda Lee (July 21, 2017) • “It might have taken three previous tries and introspective psychological searching to arrive here, but with Goodnight Rhonda Lee, Nicole Atkins gets all the pieces to fit. The singer may not have been made for these times, but she creates a defining portrait of an artist whose grasp of the past creates ageless, enduring music for any year.” (Hal Horowitz)
• Rather than retro~pastiche, the songs sound refreshing and unforced.
••••• “Atkins doesn’t treat getting sober and navigating major life transitions as a somber affair… Audacious is more like it, and her album’s all the more riveting for her resistance to being buttoned~up… animated by a spirit of impulsiveness, it’s also very much the product of artful craft, burnished not only by the symphonic production, but her Brill Building~style grasp of rich melody and sturdy structure.” — NPR First Listen Born: October 1, 1978, Neptune, New Jersey, United States
Location: Nashville, TN
Album release: July 21, 2017
Recorded: in Fort Worth, TX with Nile City Sound, a.k.a. producers Austin Jenkins, Josh Block, and Chris Vivion (Leon Bridges).
Record Label: Single Lock Records
01 A Little Crazy 3:57
02 Darkness Falls So Quiet 4:36
03 Listen Up 3:11
04 Goodnight Rhonda Lee 2:34
05 If I Could 3:24
06 Colors 2:47
07 Brokedown Luck 3:43
08 I Love Living Here (Even When I Don’t) 3:32
09 Sleepwalking 3:46
10 A Night of Serious Drinking 4:10
11 A Dream Without Pain 4:09
••••• In order to capture the timelessness she sought, Nicole enlisted a modern day Wrecking Crew: Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, TX, who had just risen to national acclaim as Leon Bridges’ secret weapon. “We spoke the same language. We wanted to make something classic, something that had an atmosphere and a mood of romance and triumph and strength and soul.” The album was recorded in five days, live to tape. The album that Nicole and the boys came up with in those five days, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, is nothing less than Great Art and a quantum leap forward for Nicole Atkins who, no matter how much she grows up, will always be a little crazy. © Nicole Atkins photo credit: Shervin Lainez (2016)
• Nicole Atkins Composer, Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements, Vocals
• Josh Block Drums, Percussion
• Reno Bo Composer
• Buffi Jacobs Cello
• Kenny Childers Composer
• Ele Chupik Vocals (Background)
• Jeff Dazey Horn Arrangements, Saxophone
• Kelly Doyle Guitar (Electric)
• Robert Ellis Guitar (Acoustic), Organ, Piano
• Louise Goffin Composer
• Lucia Holm Photo Editing
• Chris Isaak Composer
• Austin Jenkins Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
• Vincent John Composer
• Shervin Lainez Back Cover Photo
• Joe LaPorta Mastering
• Griffin Lotz Cover Photo, Inside Photo
• Khadijah Islah Mohanimes Vocals (Background)
• Elaine Monte Executive Producer
• Joseph Monte Executive Producer
• Geoffrey Muller Guitar (Bass)
• Sean Redman Violin
• Leo Saenz Trumpet
• Jim Sclanvunos Composer
• Chris Seefried Composer
• David Sherman Composer
• Ryan Spraker Composer
• Ben Tanner Mixing, Vibraphone
• Imelda Tecson Violin
• Will Van Horn Guitar, Guitar (Baritone), Guitar (Steel), Organ AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson; Score: ****½
• Nicole Atkins’ fourth album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, was born from a period of transition for the singer and songwriter, and it comes with a few firsts. For one, it marks her debut for Single Lock Records, an Alabama label co~founded by the Civil Wars’ John Paul White. During its development, she pulled up roots and relocated from her hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey to Nashville, Tennessee.
• On the advice of friend Chris Isaak, she also made an effort to write songs that showcase what sets her apart: those rich, classic vocals. To underscore that effort, she sought out a new production team that makes a lot of sense on paper. Niles City Sound (Josh Block, Austin Jenkins, and Chris Vivion) drew attention for their work on retro~soul singer Leon Bridges’ 2015 debut. Atkins and crew recorded the album live to tape in Ft. Worth, Texas in under a week. With songs that evoke the heyday of Dusty Springfield, Brill Building pop, vintage soul, and other classic mid~century sounds, and with a voice to match, the unapologetically retro approach turns out to be a winning one in practice, too.
• The title Goodnight Rhonda Lee references an alter ego that Atkins would evoke when misbehaving. With the singer struggling with sobriety during this time — something she was open about in press surrounding the album — as well as a family cancer diagnosis, it’s a persona that Atkins is finally ready to shed. The stunning opening track, “A Little Crazy” was co~written with Isaak and sounds like it. A country~infused noir ballad with strings and a triple shot of heartache, its big melody and high~contrast performance end up setting the stage for what’s to come rather than peaking out of the gate. Later, for instance, she holds her own alongside a full band and horns on the bluesy, uptempo “Brokedown Luck,” and she elicits late~career Peggy Lee with the lower end of her range on the reflective “A Night of Serious Drinking” (co~written with Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ James Sclavunos). Goodnight Rhonda Lee is hardly Atkins’ first stylistic excursion into the past, but here, having an audibly sharp focus, a lot on her mind, and a leave~it~all~on~tape performance ethic make for her strongest impression since her debut.
|Nicole Atkins||Goodnight Rhonda Lee|
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