Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Album Review: Nicole Atkins & the Sea – Neptune City

I’ve gotta admit, the first several times I listened to Neptune City, I was less than impressed. Perhaps it was just a case of bad timing (several times over); I was just in unfortunate moods, and the little black cloud hovering over my soul didn’t go in for the grandiose, epic sweep and big, bold voice seeping into my eardrums. But one day, the clouds lifted, the skies turned a glorious shade of blue, and I finally got it: ladies and gents, I really dig this album.

Miss Nicole Atkins has definitely had her share of romantic problems, and it’s this relate-ability that is but the least of her appeal. She deftly transforms average lovelorn tales into operatic, theatrical songs, full of dramatic instrumentation (courtesy of the Sea) and lyrics belted out in a voice as fit for the stage as it is for records. Opening track “Maybe Tonight” sets the tone, Atkins showing wry witticisms such as “I have been informed/you could be the death of me” and of course, that powerful voice. And ladies (just maybe you fellas, too), who among us can’t empathize with those boys (or girls) who are nothing but trouble and thereby ridiculously appealing? My probable favorite, “Together We’re Both Alone”, is gentle and soothing at first, but builds with the help of various strings into something nearly majestic, not to mention more than a touch bittersweet. “The Way It Is” sees Atkins channeling her inner torch singer, as she throws caution (and perhaps common sense) to the wind with the latest object of her affection (“if I were smart I’d never call you ever again”).

By this point, I seriously question why I didn’t immediately fall in smit with this album, but I guess as with people, sometimes albums can just hit you over the head, even after you’ve listened to them several times before. Not in the sense of being a grower, though, as this was like being struck like lightning, as opposed to just growing into comfortable familiarity with an album. The fabulousness continues on from there, going from slow burners to barn stormers in the blink of an eye.

Basically, I’m here to inform you of the wonderfulness of this album, so you can avoid my mistake in not loving this album right off the bat. It’s what I’m here for, folks.

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