RAHWAY — Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea is one of the hottest artists on the music scene today. Their US summer tour will stop by Rahway on Thursday, July 21, in one of only two scheduled New Jersey appearances as part of the Mayor’s Summer Concert Series.
Rolling Stone magazine named Atkins one of the Ten Artists to Watch, giving her 2007 debut album Neptune City 3.5 stars. This New Jersey born singer/songwriter has been featured in People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, on David Letterman and most recently with the release of her new album Mondo Amore, on the Conan O’Brien Show. Referred to as “a female Roy Orbison,” early influences in country, blues and 60s rock come through in her rich, earthy vocals.
As its all-encompassing title suggests, Mondo Amore is a big, bold collection, a grandly romantic song cycle fraught with all the passion, anger, tenderness, and devotion of Atkins’ own extraordinary heart.
“It’s so much love,” she agrees, “it’s borderline obsessive.”
Mondo Amore has its genesis in a time of extreme turbulence for Atkins.
“Things had gotten kinda weird and dark. I was breaking up with my boyfriend, my band, and my label, all at the same time,” she said. “Writing these songs was my way of trying to work out what was happening. With everything that was going on, and because of the subject matter, I knew I needed something more aggressive.”
Atkins’ goal from the get-go was to create a more volatile sound than she had ever previously attempted, a sonic approach akin to such influences as Scott Walker and Nick Cave, while also touching on longtime inspirations like the blues and classic 60s psychedelic rock.
The loose collective of musicians who assisted Atkins on Mondo Amore has morphed into a leaner, meaner backing combo, now dubbed The Black Sea. Comprising Irina Yalkowsky, Jeremy Kay and drummer Ezra Oklan, the band has given Atkins still more reason to be enthused about her future.
“This is the best lineup I’ve ever played with,” she says.
This free show begins at 7 p.m. The concert stage is located at the Rahway Train Plaza, at the corner of Irving Street and Milton Avenue. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be moved to the Rahway Recreation Center, 275 East Milton Avenue.
The series continues on July 28 with Total Soul, Aug. 4 with Swingadelic, Aug. 18 with Buskin and Batteau and Sept. 1 with World Within.
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