Originally published on KDHX.org
Nikki Lane‘s newest record, “All or Nothin’,” isn’t just an album title. It’s a statement of character: you either like her or you don’t. You take her as she is, or you don’t get anything at all.
It’s a boldly understated rallying cry for the newest alt-country heroine, who performed a concise set of songs from her new album for KDHX. Already receiving high praise from Rolling Stone and NPR, Lane seems poised for the indie-country spotlight, aiming to take the genre to new heights and new audiences.
She’s a dark haired bombshell, with a Carolina-tinged southern twang in her voice, a sort of huskier sounding Loretta Lynn or a less rockabilly-inspired Wanda Jackson. Released on New West Records and produced by Black Keys’ bandleader Dan Auerbach in his Nashville based studio, the new album features twang-laden, traditional country songs from a new fresh personality that are sure to become future classics of the genre.
Each of these songs tells its own unique, individual story. But it’s interesting to note that the collection also maintains an overall narrative when analyzed in sequential order.
The first track, “Good Man,” is a pedal-steel heavy ode to imperfect country romance, a love letter to a partner who isn’t being a good man by not being good enough to his woman. Calling for her lover to take more consideration, rather than calling it quits right away, she sings, “How can I be the one who cries for you / unless you love me true?”
In “Man Up,” a similar plea is made, although it has been taken up a notch and becomes less of a love letter and more of a letter of eviction. “I’m gonna have to be the one who acts tough,” she sings, giving the signal that decision are about to be made.
“Wild One” seems to solidify the end of that relationship and it is critical to denote Lane’s smooth nonchalance at the deterioration. She croons, “You’re a long shot / And honey you’re way out of line.” It’s the honest, albeit heartbreaking, acceptance of a time come to an end, learning to let go of the things you cannot change.
But she doesn’t waste any time fawning over her broken love, before breaking into her hit single, “Right Time.” It feels so contagiously rebellious to hear her sing, “It’s always the right time to do the wrong thing.” It’s such a phrase repeated by many in music, but few have had the ability to phrase it as eloquently, and she somehow makes you want to do the wrong thing with her. Nikki Lane is giving it her all, and proving she’s got much more on the way.