Nikki Lane @ Crescent Ballroom

Nikki Lane is raw, unabashed, and commanding — and alluringly soft. Her music hardly follows the stereotypical country blueprint, which is part of what makes it so refreshing. Another part is the intensity packed into each song, from ferocious growls to sexy whispers, sneering jeers to quiet laments — it's all Lane, inside and out. She simply kicks ass. Her latest album, All or Nothin', was produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who gave it a distinctive edge. Lane states in a press release she was unsure Dan was the man to produce "country's next star," as she's been called. She was dead wrong, and her debut album, Walk of Shame, reveals her simmering potential hiding behind more trad-country. Auerbach exploits that potential, bringing it to the forefront by allowing Lane's true fire to burn though 12 tracks of scorching rockabilly (think early Wanda Jackson), blues-fueled country, and blustery paisley pop, all scattered with hints of vintage voodoo surf guitar, lusty New Orleans backbeats, and Duane Eddy twang filling the gaps. Lane's hell-raising side emerges often, notably on the promiscuous "Sleep with a Stranger" and the locomotive "Right Time," in which she proclaims, "It's always the right time to do the wrong thing." Indeed!

 
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