Like every other new millennium nu-soul diva, Nikka Costa wound up being overshadowed by Amy Winehouse, the neo-soul singer who catapulted over all her rivals with Back to Black, an impeccable updating of classic soul whose modern updates were flair, not foundation. It was the inverse of the formula Costa and her producer/husband Justin Stanley pursued beginning with her 2001 debut Everybody Got Their Something, which not so coincidentally was co-produced by Mark Ronson, Winehouse's producer; a bit of history that had to sting for Nikka. Ronson's influence can be heard on Costa's third album, 2008's Pebble to a Pearl, but not to the extent it was on Everybody Got Their Something, when his DJ roots shone through.
Poor Nikka. Long before a certain beehived Brit hip-cocked her way into the spotlight, the American-bred Costa was working the retro-soul whitegirl growl like a pro, as evidenced on her excellent, funked-out 2000 debut, Everybody’s Got Their Something (coproduced, coincidentally — or not! — by Amy Winehouse collaborator Mark Ronson). Alas, while an increasingly beleaguered Winehouse may have abdicated the throne by personal default, Costa won’t likely step in to replace her with Pebble to a Pearl.