Nicole Atkins - Neptune City
Review by Jack Foley
WHEN New Jersey native Nicole Atkins released her album Neptune City in America earlier this year, she drew a lot of favourable reviews from some top music critics.
Rolling Stone awarded her album 3.5 out of 5 and wrote: “Draping her throaty voice over velvety surf-guitar ballads, orchestral studio pop and misty piano-bar melodies… Nicole Atkins calls out the bridges, bars and ex-boyfriends she left behind.”
While Entertainment Weekly stated that “it’s heartbreak nearly at its finest — and most cosmopolitan”, awarding it a B+.
Her striking vocals are immediately apparent on former single and opening track Maybe Tonight, a ’60s-influenced power-pop ballad that recalls the essence of Patsy Cline. It combines sorrow and hope (“I know we’ll meet again… maybe tonight”) and is wrapped in some vibrant melodies.
A sweeping strings-laced intro ensures the momentum is maintained on Together We’re Both Alone, another sweeping record that’s epic in nature but incredibly heartfelt.
Drawing from memories of her own upbringing in Neptune City, New Jersey, Atkins takes us through a range of emotions, and draws upon a wide variety of instruments.
The Way It Is is an utterly dusky song about a doomed love that could quite easily have been delivered in a smoky jazz lounge, while there’s a swinging, Dusty Springfield vibe attached to the upbeat Cool Enough (an album highlight).
War Torn is dreamy and nostalgic, recalling hot summers and cool beaches, while Love Surreal is sassy and confident, brimming with an effervescent pop energy.
Brooklyn’s On Fire emerges like a sweeping Broadway number that explodes to life on several occasions with a backing chorus, while Kill The Headlights washes over you with a heady mix of rock guitars and longing vocals. Just occasionally, there’s a touch of the Chrissie Hynde, Duffy and Imogen Heap about her.
And yet for all the comparisons she’s capable of generating (all of them positive) Atkins retains a fierce identity of her own that marks her firmly out as one to watch. Neptune City is well worth checking out.
Download picks: Maybe Tonight, Way It Is, Love Surreal, Kill The Headlights, Neptune City, Brooklyn’s On Fire