Release Date: Jul 21, 2017
Record label: Single Lock Records
Nicole Atkins' fourth album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, was born from a period of transition for the singer and songwriter, and it comes with a few firsts. For one, it marks her debut for Single Lock Records, an Alabama label co-founded by the Civil Wars' John Paul White. During its development, she pulled up roots and relocated from her hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey to Nashville, Tennessee.
For around a decade, Nicole Atkins has led an impressive solo career while also finding time to collaborate with many other folks, including guesting on A.C. Newman's 2009 album Get Guilty. Her fourth full-length album in ten years finds Atkins at her most confident and relaxed, striking a balance between gentle self-deprecation and raw soul-baring. Though she had some very skilled help to summon this sweetly vintage sound (the production team behind Leon Bridges' excellent debut, plus a co-write from Chris Isaak on "A Little Crazy"), Atkins' singing and songwriting is at its best here, too.
It's been 10 years since Nicole Atkins released her debut, and criminally slept on, album Neptune City. Now she's returned with Goodnight Rhonda Lee which continues her odyssey of stark, frank songwriting, which is underpinned with glorious soul music that evokes classic Stax and Chess recordings. The album opens with 'A Little Crazy', which features Chris Isaak.
"I guess I just wasn't made for these times," Brian Wilson famously sang, but that could just as well be the motto of singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins. If it wasn't obvious from her previous three albums, "A Little Crazy," the opening track on her fourth release and first in three years, makes that abundantly clear. Atkins explodes out of the blocks with her powerful voice, a combination of Roy Orbison's high drama and k.d.
Heartache and triumph flow through Nicole Atkins's Goodnight Rhonda Lee. The songs on the signer-songwriter's fourth album testify to lessons learned the hard way, bitter endings leading to new beginnings, and joy won through struggle. Atkins has always been a technically gifted vocalist stranded in generic pop-rock, but here she cuts loose with the power, range, and soul-baring intensity she's only hinted at before.
It's worth buying Goodnight Rhonda Lee just for first single, "A Little Crazy." This lush Roy Orbison-esque lament (co-written with Chris Isaak) is one of the best '60s pop ballads released since the '60s. Its beautiful orchestral arrangement is the perfect soft majestic wonderland for her powerhouse of a voice to soar through. And luckily the record has so much more to offer.