Nicole Atkins breathes life into new album Italian Ice, drawing on a strong lineup of musicians amidst a genre-hopping and emotional journey.
The latest album from Nicole Atkins, Italian Ice, was recorded in the greatly respected Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and features members of the Bad Seeds, Dap-Kings, the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and more. Genre-hopping is a feature on this album and its influences range from soul to Roy Orbison.
Speaking of soul, Nicole Atkins’ voice is full of it. That is the immediate feeling that hits you as you dive headfirst into the sweeping landscape of the first track on this musically moving album. AM Gold has all the throaty soulfulness of an Aretha Franklin track with the atmospheric beachcomber feel of a Morcheeba album. Nicole describes Italian Ice as “an acid trip through my record collection” and she couldn’t be more right. This is the sound of the perfect summer spent on beautiful deserted beaches with the waves lapping at your toes and the sun caressing your skin. This album is just divine and listening to Nicole’s voice is like diving into cool, clear sound waves.
Italian Ice also features such luminaries as Jim Sclavunos and David “Moose” Sherman of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Dap-Kings’ Binky Griptite and drummer McKenzie Smith (St. Vincent, Midlake) – along with Spooner Oldham and David Hood of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Co-produced by Nicole and Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes), all these high-profile musical luminaries have really helped to create the well-rounded record.
Lead single Domino is a track of pure groove that puts you in an ideal positive and funky frame of mind. There is something theatrical about this sound. It has a depth to it and layers of sound that create unique pictures in your mind. It’s vanilla ice cream on a hot day. Mind Eraser is another interesting track, based around addiction and features an irresistible Beatles style jangling backbeat.
The back-to-back ballads Forever and Captain are songs written specifically for her husband. St. Dymphna then delves into deeper emotions focusing on mental illness following Nicole’s time in rehab. This track gave me goosebumps right away. There is a nod to a Fifties-style sound here and I am reminded of The Chiffons and Ronnie Spector. The music excites me. This is a unique sound of inspiration even though Nicole is singing about addiction. The way it still sounds so beautiful but covers a serious subject blows me away. Outstanding.
With such dexterity and an impressive outlook, Italian Ice is my favourite album of the year so far. Nicole Atkins is a rare talent and an exciting discovery.