Nikki Lane – All or Nothin’ (Rating 4 out of 5)

nikkiPlaying on the same woman scorned and she’s going to kick your ass playing field with Brandy Clark and Sunny Sweeny, Nikki Lane has put together her most polished set to date laying down her own brand of Americana tinged Country Rock with just enough retro country swagger to keep things cool.

With Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys at the production helm, the mixing of the voices and the instruments is spot-on perfect with a clarity that highlights the vocals while the guitars, drums and Hammond B-3 seem to float around the proceedings like a butterfly waiting to land. The Lucinda Williams influence can’t be ignored here, but there is a lot more going on than meets the ear.

The opening strutter “Right Time” is a call to arms proclaiming that it is always the right time to do the wrong thing, and “Wild One” might be the best kiss off song since Cee-Lo Green with a Lucinda meets Tammy Wynette vibe that would have been just as comfortable in 1979 as it is today, and this is a very good thing.

There is something for everyone to like on this record. “You Can’t Talk to Me Like That” sounds like early Dylan, there is an 80’s Go Go’s vibe on “I Don’t Care,” the secret agent man surf guitar on “Seein’ Double” is too cool for school, and there is even a bit of Honky Tonk going on complete with pedal steel on “Out of My Mind.”

I will stand on Rick Rubin’s coffee table and declare that Dan Auerbach is the best producer in Rock Music today. His ability to blend the old-school with the present, throwing in some surf guitar here, 60’s girl group there, with the B-3 as icing on the proverbial cake, is a beautiful sight to hear, and All or Nothin’ courtesy of Nikki Lane is exhibit A.

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