Nicole Atkins & The Sea
Don't miss Nicole Atkins -- she's the real deal!
Columbia Recording artist touring in support of her new release Neptune City
I'm sitting over/Neptune City/I used to love it/It used to be pretty/I'll come down/Walk around awhile/Until I'm sure/I can never go home again. Neptune City
The sound of Nicole Atkins' Bleeding Diamonds EP, which serves as a handy introduction to her upcoming, feature-length Columbia Records debut, is like the opening scene to one of her favorite directors David Lynch's Blue Velvet . Underneath the sunny blue skies, immaculately manicured suburban homes and their bright green lawns lies a forbidding black hole of danger, violence and death.
That is the world described by this 27-year-old singer/songwriter from Neptune, a New Jersey shore town just down the coastline from Asbury Park , where she grew up in an idyllic childhood, teaching herself to play a Grateful Dead song on the guitar she found in the attic once owned by an uncle who died when he was 13. Her father turned her on to blues artists like Jimmy Reed, allowing Nicole to sit in on sessions with local musician friends. She played for three years with the North Carolina alt-country band Los Parasols before making a name for herself as a solo performer on New York City 's anti-folk scene.
Earlier this year, Atkins was named one of Rolling Stone 's Top 10 Artists to Watch, raving about her big voice full of longing and Loretta Lynn elegance, and slightly surreal folk-pop songs that evoke moonlit walks with the shadows closing in.
Think Roy Orbison's Cryin' if he was a woman, the orchestral sweep of Sufjan Stevens, the bleak vision 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 psychedelia of Love and Nuggets , all with a redeeming sense of hope amidst the emotional wreckage
Y'know, all that pain and heartache, says Nicole, with her glasses on, looking like a ringer for Saturday Night Live 's Tina Fey.
I'm trying to find the words you want to hear, she sings on the title track of her six-song Bleeding Diamonds EP, recorded with her band The Seaguitarist Dave Hollinghurst, bassist John Flaughter, drummer Dan Mintzer and keyboardist Dan Chen. Atkins explains the song was inspired by watching footage of the war from Iraq on TV, with the bombs exploding on the screen as if the sky were bleeding diamonds, as Nicole pretends to be a woman waiting for a loved one to come home from the battlefront.
I'm not a political songwriter, but you can't help write about things that are happening to you and around you, she says.
Snowshakes describes the darkness in youthful late nights (Sometimes the drugs don't keep you going, sings Nicole), while Carousel, with its brooding Brecht-Weill atmosphere, recalls her childhood love of musicals like The Fantasticks and Celebration , as it mourns the imminent demise of Asbury Park 's Pa
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