Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Nicole Atkins: "Mondo Amore" (album review)

To say that Nicole Atkins forthcoming album Mondo Amore was a break-up record would be one heck of an understatement.  Since the making of her last album she's weathered separations in her personal life, a split with her record label, and even a divorce from her previous backing band The Sea.

The resulting pain and introspection are certainly at the forefront of the new batch of songs.  Always dark and seductive, Atkins has never been as soulful and gritty as she is one this record.  Her vocals on a cuts like "Vultures" and "This Is the Love" alternately soar and boom.  When she adds restraint, like on "Hotel Plaster", you can almost feel the remorse dripping off the words.

Roots-inspired rock finds its way seeping into Atkins music more and more as well.  Tracks like the hook-laden "Cry Cry Cry" and the country stomp "My Baby Don't Lie", provide the perfect arrangement for her melancholy lyrics.

It all can stray a little bit too far into the melodramatic on occasion.  "You Were the Devil" definitely fits a track of that description.  As does the overwrought and slightly cheesy "War Is Hell", which features guest vocals from My Morning Jacket's Jim James.

One worries at first that the album closer "The Tower" is headed in that direction too.  Starting very slowly, the song builds and builds in intensity, until it hits a monumental apex.  It's truly a fitting cathartic moment to close out an album meant to provide that closure.

Nicole Atkins plays the Horseshoe in Toronto on February 26th.

Best tracks: "Cry Cry Cry", "My Baby Don't Lie"

Track listing for Mondo Amore:
  • Vultures
  • Cry Cry Cry
  • Hotel Plaster
  • You Come To Me
  • My Baby Don't Lie
  • This Is The Love
  • You Were the Devil
  • War Is Hell
  • Heavy Boots
  • The Tower
Nicole Atkins' website
Nicole Atkins' Myspace

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