Her third album, Highway Queen, is almost like an audio identity card for South Carolina based country singer-songwriter Nikki Lane. Released this year on New West Records, this is a welcome injection of country-laden light rock ‘n roll in an age of sickly indie pop tunes all battling it out to get played on the next episode of Made In Chelsea.
Many of the songs in this ten track album rarely reach much of blistering crescendo. Don’t be expectant of a boisterous riot of country- instead, a gentle and mightily atmospheric meander through it. You can feel the stories in these tunes, you know Lane has lived through each of them.
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The drums in album opener 700,000 Rednecks serve as tone-setter for all that is coming. The steady thud that fills you with anticipation and tension and leaves you up there, on a crest of a deep South wave. It is clear this album needs to be played at a considerable volume, for it is here you can appreciate the many layers to each track. Lane both reveals enough to keep you interested and hides enough to keep you hooked for the rest of the album.
Title track Highway Queen, perhaps the preferred persona of Lane herself, rings out like a brilliantly arranged personal anthem as she proclaims “Highway Queen don’t need no King”. This number proves Lane is here to do things her way, and we can either join in the country party or pack our bags and head back to the city.
Other highlights on this country-rock gem include Companion, a delightful which details the tribulations of companionship with the back drop of a Buddy Holly inspired riff and ‘50s dreamy backing vocals. Other areas of note are Jackpot, an uber-American song which bares its own “Viva Las Vegas” and an irresistibly catchy rhythm to boot. Foolish Heart is one of the more emotive tracks at play here: beautifully melancholic strings are heard over simplistic drums and slick, moody lyrics. Lane proves her poetic prowess in the album’s closing song- Forever Lasts Forever, as she laments “They say forever lasts forever until forever becomes never again”.
One thing is for sure, this is a refreshing effort from Lane. Whilst it may not become an instant obsession of yours, much like the nature of the album it will slowly unfold itself and reveal more to you and become something of an old and trusted friend amidst your library.
‘Highway Queen’ is out now. Photo Credit : Official Facebook Page