"...slightly surreal folk-pop songs that evoke moonlit walks with the shadows closing in...a voice full of longing and Loretta Lynn elegance" - Rolling Stone, Top 10 Artists to Watch
Nicole Atkins is set to release her new UK single, "Maybe Tonight" on May 26th, 2008 on Columbia Records.
The shores of New Jersey are littered, quite literally, with small towns whose better days are far in the past. They're towns that have been written about, and sung over; towns that have been mythologised and idealised; and they are the towns that Nicole Atkins, a native of Neptune City, located a stones throw from fabled Asbury Park, was born and raised in.
They can be places steeped in their own history, buried under the sense of their own pasts. Places of hey-days and what-once-was. And it's that sense of something lost, and of what perhaps should have been, and what might be, that permeates Atkins's debut album, 'Neptune City' (out 2nd June, 2008 in the UK).
Watch video - "Maybe Tonight" from 'Neptune City'
"Neptune City is just this old place," Nicole says. "There was this glory time, way back when, that I never experienced, but that you cannot escape if you live there. Everyone talks about it. They almost yearn for it, but I never experienced it. So maybe this album is my attempt to build something new on top of all that."
The record calls to mind Roy Orbison if he were a woman; the bleak visions of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen; the darkly mysterious girl group-on-acid musings of Julee Cruise and Lynch composer Angelo Badalamenti; the sorrow of Patsy Cline, the '60s experimentation of Love and Nuggets; all with a redeeming sense of hope amidst the emotional wreckage that is all Nicole. A sense that's perfectly captured on "Cool Enough," on which she sings, "I don't care where you're going/You're taking me with you/This place got nothing that I could want/But I think that someday, I might feel different/But still, that's someday/Still that's someday/So take me with you."
And it's that sound that washes over 'Neptune City', produced by Tore Johansson (Cardigans, Franz Ferdinand, OK Go, Saint Etienne, New Order), an album that sounds like it came from anywhere but the New Jersey Americana rock tradition made famous by Bruce Springsteen. Her music ranges far afield: at some times vaudevillian, at others psychedelic, a little bit country, a dash from early musicals, all under a cloud of pop-noir, often all coming in the very same song. Atkins writes songs that could have come from an episode of Six Feet Under, or an updating of Grease, as directed by David Lynch.
Over everything, Atkins brings a painterly quality to her music, fitting for a woman who studied illustration while at UNC Charlotte, and still has her own mural business. Her songs are aural paintings, mixing and matching colors and sounds.
In the end, 'Neptune City' comes across as a restoration project in a way, an attempt to build something new on something old. There's an acute subtlety to the art of restoration. Do it wrong and you're simply cribbing the past. Do it right and you're actually, in a profound way, carrying it forward into today. And that's what 'Neptune City' accomplishes. It brings its past with it, carries its heart on its sleeve, and strides hopefully into a better day it can hardly imagine, but hopes will be there nonetheless.
Live Date: 29th April, 2008 - London, Soho Revue Bar
Neptune City on amazon.com
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