Trying to place Nicole Atkins into the box of a musical genre is nearly impossible. Over the course of her three albums she has incorporated so many different styles into her music, none of which have taken a central role, and even over time she has never done the same thing twice.
Yet with so much musical mixture, there’s never any clashing. The songs are familiar but not over-worn.
On Slow Phaser‘s opening track, Who Killed The Moonlight, there’s a disco bass-line that provides excellent support without actually transforming it into a disco song – perhaps what she meant when she described the album as “desert disco.”
That element returns during the bridge of first single Girl You Look Amazing, which also has a slight hint of rockabilly. One of many times Nicole utilizes various types of folk music on the record, freeing her not only from the confines of genre but era as well.
It’s Only Chemistry is oddly addicting with its call and answer delivery over a banjo lead semi-bluegrass sound. Nicole takes a nod again toward this style on Sin Song, where she and a chorus tantalizingly sing “My god is a holy shit/my god is a son of a bitch” without repercussion.
In between the southern country and traditional folk musings, Nicole takes her sultry vocals to a place more contemporary as she dabbles in psychedelic synth lines and reverse lyrics in What Do You Know, offers a slight nod to 90s alternative in the emotional charging post-breakup Red Ropes, and releases a more modern lighter pop sound in Cool People.
Unlike her past two albums, every song on Slow Phaser has the ability to stand strong on its own. One can pluck anything from it and name it a favourite. While those who are already familiar with Nicole may still associate her with the baroque-pop sound of her debut, this album serves as a better representation of her music and a more appropriate introduction for those who are new to her.
Nicole has always had the makings of a strong artist. She’s still finding her place but Slow Phaser shows that she’s settling in more, making it her best album so far – but her greatest is still to come.
1. Who Killed The Moonlight
2. It’s Only Chemistry
3. Girl You Look Amazing
4. Cool People
5. We Wait Too Long
6. Red Ropes
7. What Do You Know
8. Gasoline Bride
9. The Worst Hangover
10. Sin Song
11. Above As Below