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Taking a Glammed-Up Road Trip with Nikki Lane on Denim & Diamonds


Nashville-based Nikki Lane’s 4th studio album, Denim & Diamonds, is the soundtrack to that much-needed long drive with yourself- windows down, music up.

The single First High sets the tone with references to the "Good old days of ’94" and Springsteen’s jeans (presumably from the cover of the album Born in the USA).

And really, the more I listened, the more I could envision some of the tracks, with slight arrangement modifications, as Springsteen-esque stadium anthems. Take Born Tough- a tale of someone who was brought up scrappy, been through the wringer of life, and lived to tell the tale.

A couple of tracks (Try Harder and Live/Love) hit a little too-on-the-nose for this jaded East Coast DJ, but I’m already prepared to circulate Good Enough to any engaged couples out there in search of an upbeat, eye-dab-worthy first dance song. The hook is textbook perfection and lends itself to singing along on the very first listen (I say this from personal experience).

In a brief detour from the overall buoyant nature of the album, there’s a serious venture into the dark historical legacy of occupation and dispossession of a Native American Holy Site in the song, Chimayo, that draws on geographically appropriate Southwestern musical influences.

Overall, the album feels like the experience of a solo road trip: that first crank of the radio, the quieter moments of introspection, and the pull offs to small honkytonks where, if you’re lucky enough, you might stumble across a band performing a stomp-able number like Black Widow, a tune that I could envision Bonnie Raitt appreciating.

Denim & Diamonds, as its title track conveys, is a celebration of independence from an artist whose put in the work, paid her dues, and is now receiving the recognition she deserves. And with a vintage clothing store as a side gig, is there any surprise Nikki’s Lane’s appreciation for the past seeps through? Informed by vintage blue jeans, Wanda Jackson and Sheryl Crow, Denim & Diamonds is an album ready for the road, from an artist hitting her stride.

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Some days KC wishes she had more space in her head for historical dates, family members’ phone numbers, and directions, but alas that space is mostly occupied by lyrics to pop songs she first heard as a tween.