Band of the Day

2012.02.22

Nikki Lane

A Nashville country firecracker who combines rebellious country with excellent songwriting
What is real is not always ideal, and the hardest part you lied from the start, tell me it ain't true.
lyrics from Lies

Nikki Lane is a country-rock singer and songwriter based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Originally from Greenville, South Carolina, Lane dropped out of high school in order to move to Los Angeles. After working various day jobs and starting her own fashion line, Lane moved cross country again, this time for a well-paying corporate job in New York. Heartbroken when her boyfriend left to record an album in Atlanta and unhappy with her job, Lane turned to music herself, penning an album in the style of classic country artists like Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn. She recorded the album No Room for Cowboys in Nashville in 2009. She eventually settled in Nashville and inked a deal with LA indie label IAMSOUND. Lane's sophomore album Walk of Shame was released September 27th, 2011 on IAMSOUND.

It took Nikki Lane a while to arrive at her current place as a country music firecracker. She left her hometown in South Carolina before finishing high school to work as a fashion designer in Los Angeles, moved to New York city a few years later, then finally found her muse as a country-rocker in the capital of twang, Nashville, Tennessee. The journey was worth it. She approaches country like an outsider, combining retro rock and roll with dark twang; like Merle Haggard's band got hijacked by Chuck Berry or MC5. Much of Walk of Shame sounds like music Quentin Tarantino would use to soundtrack something very bad happening.

“Lies” kicks off the album with ferocity. Backed only by a somberly ringing guitar, Lane belts out, “Funny how you think you know a man/but in time you will understand/tell me it ain't true” in her rich, reverb dipped voice. Without any further ado, the band launches into Johnny Cash-style country-noir: menacingly bouncing bass line, phantom slide guitars, and a steadily pounding drum beat. Lane edges closer to rock in the chorus, as the guitar leans toward power chords and Lane yells “Lies lies lies!!”

Lane plays with cliché throughout the album, both thematically and musically, and injects enough sass and verve into the conventions to make them come alive. On “Walk of Shame” she takes on the one-night stand, pulling out her best sultry twang as she sings, “Well hell what I do last night?/I got a bass drum thumping in my head/Woke up at the crack of dawn/I was laying in a stranger's bed.” It leverages dramatic organs and a super energetic chorus combining rockabilly and country to excellent effect. The album isn't all rebel country, however. “Coming Home To You” is a sweet, guitar-picked ballad, “Save You” is sweeping and earnest, “Sleep For You” is pretty and tranquil. She covers a lot of ground, and the line between winking tongue-in-cheek moments and earnestness can be thin. Walk of Shame is by turns dark, sweet, traditional, disruptive, but most of all, it's a hell of a lot of fun.