Nicole Atkins, Bleeding Diamonds EP

Nicole Atkins, Bleeding Diamonds EP

It’s hard to believe Nicole Atkins is only 27 years old. I was so sure that the voice coming out of my stereo belongs to someone who’s already blown out the candles on her 50th birthday cake. And I do mean that wholeheartedly as a compliment. Which should explain to you how her all-knowing voice will immediately wrap you up and bring you along for a dizzying ride through songs about war, longing, and her New Jersey childhood on her debut EP, Bleeding Diamonds.

From those six songs the hint of alt-country never fades, in both slow piano ballads and moody singalongs. The melodies are never repetitive and always moving along, thanks to her four member backing band (dubbed “The Sea”). They provide the sweeping strings, atmospheric synths and twinkling keys of the piano to create a sparkling world similar in sound to what Eisley did in 2005 with Room Noises.

The strongest part of the album, though, is anything but Eisley-like. It really hits you with “Caroselle”, a jaunty barroom piano piece based on the demolishing of Ashbury Park’s Palace Amusement Park; it reels in and out with a jagged bass line and frightening clashes of cymbals, but the real chills come in when the playful piano goes solo, dancing along with rumbling drums underneath it.

Atkins’ voice stretches to fit the different rhythms and takes freedom in lingering on every few syllables in “War Torn.” In “Delora,” haunting backing choirs furtively sneak in behind her voice, and there’s a storm full of instruments and background vocals that swirl around one another near the end. There is a lot to take in on this EP: the tambourine accents, the start-and-stop bass lines, the flurries of cymbals, and more, all glazed over Atkins’ hypnotizing, world-weary voice.

(Red Ink Records -- http://redmusic.com/redink/; Columbia Records -- 550 Madison Ave. 26th Fl., New York, NY. 10022; http://www.columbiarecords.com/; Nicole Atkins -- http://www.nicoleatkins.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Thursday, May 3rd, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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