Phase Her In Quickly
It would be so easy for Nicole Atkins to denominate with other artists with whom she has something in common. There’s a throwback element to her deep yet omnipresent vibrato and Phil-Spector-esque arrangements, but she cannot be compared to Adele or even She & Him. Her music has a theatrical element, but she is not as absorbed as Amanda Palmer. There’s an alt-country element, but not quite as overt as Neko Case. Jersey’s Nicole Atkins just is, and what she happens to be. And what she happens to be shines from all sides on her third full-length album, Slow Phaser.
Slow Phaser opens mysteriously with “Who Killed the Moonlight,” sounding like a song written for, if one existed, a James Bond western, with its huge reverbed guitars, muted bass line and Atkins’ come hither voice above it all. The chorus changes all of that and the album’s vision comes into focus. Its raison d’etre is fully realized on the third track, “Girl You Look Amazing,” a dancey, funky, addictive number that has all of the elements of a great pop song. It sounds like it could have been written in 1962, but a great hook is a great hook, and one that picks you up and makes you shake it is that much better.
“We Wait Too Long” is a stifled, slightly psychedelic piece that brings high latex boots to mind. “Red Ropes” and “What Do You Know” are a couple of the more demonstrative numbers, but Atkins caps it off before she gets pretentious. “Sin Song” is a hoe-down of sorts in which she and her band sing some not-so-nice things about the almighty. Slow Phaser ends with “Above As Below,” a slow repetitive number that brings the album to a nice, relaxing close. It’s an album that has everything, but the variety is not distracting; just different facets of one enormous talent.