The smooth symphonic soul of the eleven songs on this album convey an icy calm at a time when the world is a raging storm. Is that a good thing? You will be the judge of that. Personally, I'd prefer to hear something more impassioned and less detached.
St. Dymphna has echoes of girl-group melodrama, Far From Home is like a subdued James Bond theme but Atkins is surely being delusional when he claims that the content is at times "as gritty as garage punk with shades of psych-rock".
Artists are rarely the best critics of their own work but this seems so off beam that you are tempted to think she is describing another record.
What is has going for it is the kind of immaculate production values you'd expect from the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. In this legendary space she assembled a pick'n'mix band to create what Atkins calls an "awesome misfit party."
Her impressive band are Jim Sclavunos and David “Moose” Sherman of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Dap-Kings’ Binky Griptite and drummer McKenzie Smith plus Spooner Oldham and David Hood of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
The record was Co-produced by Atkins and Ben Tanner. It also features special guests Seth Avett, John Paul White and Erin Rae, and songs co-written with Hamilton Leithauser, Britt Daniel and Carl Broemel.
The title refers to her favourite summer treat growing up in Asbury Park and is also an alter ego she’s taken on while shooting dice.
"Musically, it doesn’t make any sense” says Atkins and she thinks of it as “an acid trip through my record collection.”. All this suggests to me is that her record collection isn't as eclectic and varied as she imagines.
Nicole Atkins' website