Nicole Atkins Sounds Amazing—Again

Our favorite hipster chanteuse finds her most authentic voice yet.

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One of the things I admire about singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, aside from her silky-yet-raspy-raw vocals, is the Everywoman appeal that manifests itself in her chameleon-like stage presence. One minute the New Jersey native is wearing a ladylike dress and pumps, belting out a torch song on Dave Letterman, or demurely answering Scott Simon’s civilized questions on NPR. The next, she’s flinging the F-bomb while dancing teasingly around a nightclub stage in a neo-hippie caftan. I had the pleasure of watching her do the later on a recent evening at Slims in San Francisco—a wet, windy, badass night on which many of her fans would’ve been justified in staying home and keeping dry. But they came anyway, because, well, their diva had just blown into town.

Atkins made venturing out in the rain—on a weeknight, no less—worth their while. “It’s a Monday night and you guys came out—I’m gonna cry,” she purred into one of two microphones set up on the small stage, which during songs she’d been moving back and forth between, like a woman torn between two equally desirable lovers. “It’s not even my birthday this time. But you still shoulda brought cake.”

The 35-year-old Italian-American singer spent the bulk of the show performing songs from her recently released third album, Slow Phaser, her first //READ MORE