Nicole Atkins – Goodnight Rhonda Lee
For a brief, magical period in the late ’60s through the mid 70s, there was this unique, fruitful and mind-blowing fusion of country, pop and rhythm & blues.
Ray Charles, of course, set the template with his landmark album Modern Sounds in Country and Western with Solomon Burke quickly following suit.
Then came the Muscle Shoals sound as The Swampers, a group that was weaned on country but loved soul music, becoming the de facto house band for artists such as Wilson Pickett and a soul-shouting singer from Detroit named Aretha Franklin. Other artists who found success with this hybrid included Dusty Springfield, Candi Staton and Bobbie Gentry. You can also hear that influence on early albums by Linda Ronstadt, The Pointer Sisters and most recently by Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton.
Nicole Atkins, a full-throated, out of this world singer from New Jersey, wonderfully picks up the mantle on her latest release, Goodnight Rhonda Lee. Atkins style of Orbison-eque pop always did sound like it belonged in another era (and that’s a good thing), but even in an era that favors big beats & slick production, it still managed to find a way to stand out. Her last few releases moved away from that sound and became more experimental; on Goodnight Rhonda Lee she goes back to basics with exceptional results.
Teaming with the Dallas-based Nile City Sound – the same team that produced Leon Bridges’ critically acclaimed album – it runs the gamut from countrified soul, full-on Spector-based pop, Brill Building bounce, brooding jazz-infused ballads and the ‘bubblegum soul’ that defined all of those great Jackson 5 singles.
10 years after releasing her stunning debut album Neptune City, Atkins is at her creative peak; easily placing herself alongside the likes of all of her musical influences and foremothers. Rich with soul, pop, brassy R&B, country, gospel and a hint of jazz, Atkins and the Nile City Sound have crafted a modern pop masterpiece.
Goodnight Rhonda Lee is available now through all major music outlets. You can also go to www.nicoleatkins.com for tour dates and additional information.