All or Nothin’ by Nikki Lane
For sheer bravado and an uncompromising look at life, you can’t beat this alt-country favorite (and the pride of East Nashville, to boot).
Her writing is direct and fiery, whether she’s holding her man accountable for all or nothin’, declaring that it’s always the right time to do the wrong thing, in “Right Time,” or laying it on the line in “Sleep With a Stranger,” which should be self-explanatory.
She delivers the goods with a feisty, come-on country voice, mindful of a young Loretta Lynn with elements of Deana Carter and rockabilly heroine Wanda Jackson. The production by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys amps up the retro feel, making sonically pleasing use of electric piano, organ and steel guitar. The soulful title track sounds like it could have emanated straight from the studios of Muscle Shoals.
But while she’s obviously inspired by her influences, Nikki still stands out as a true original. Nothing about the album feels insincere or contrived to meet some sort of marketing plan.
That said, she might not be to everyone’s taste, particularly if you take your music strictly mainstream. But those looking for a diversion from the radio clutter are urged to sit up and listen.