Nicole Atkins - Mondo Amore
Nicole Atkins previous full solo album, Neptune City, was one of our top releases of the last decade; its grand ambition not only met but surpassed all of our expectations. Following that was always going to be a massive undertaking and with Mondo Amore, the singer has achieved the near impossible. It's an album that panders to those that have followed her career from the beginning, yet she still manages to throw a curve ball and remain accessible to newcomers. Opening with 'Vultures' is a brave move - a much darker and challenging track than we would have expected. However all the more surprising is the next track 'Cry Cry Cry' which is far more formulaic, conventional and something we'd expect more from her contemporaries. Accessibility certainly shows itself here and gives the opening needed to kick back and take in everything that follows. 'Hotel Plaster' could have easily slotted in to the epic, retro scale of Neptune City with its piano and Atkins' vocal range offering continuity. Riffs and beats bring 'You Come To Me' to life and inject some needed vigour that then carries through the rest of the album. Touching on country music ('My Baby Don't Lie') to ballads ('This Is For Love') and ending with the massive crescendo of 'The Tower', Mondo Amore is one of the most diverse albums we've seen in a long time. Brave and exciting in equal measure, Atkins leave no room for disappointment and has created ten tracks here that are not only unforgettable but would each individually mark career peaks for many other artists.