This album is right on the outer edges of our comfort zone here at Moshville Times. It’s not rock, it’s not metal… it’s bluesy but far more soulful than that. On the other hand, it’s real music. Incredible, warm, emotional, beautiful music. And on that basis I’m writing this review.
We featured the opening track, a cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U”, recently. It’s not the only cover track on the album, which mixes such experiments with reworkings of Costa’s own material and one new song, “Arms Around You”. The other most notable cover is of Frank Sinatra’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” which was originally arranged by Costa’s father for Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. In fact, it was this song that led to the germ of an idea for this album entering Costa’s head as she wondered what it would sound like with strings accompanying it. From such acorns…
Also included in the “other people did it first” list are “Stormy Weather” (Judy Garland, amongst others), Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” and “Silver Tongue” by Prince, for which Costa supplied the original lyrics. For the Buckley classic, Costa has slowed things down a tad and made an already heartfelt number even more soulful. The opening keyboards from the original have been replaced with softer strings which suit her voice perfectly. Dare I say “better than the original”? It’s touch and go, it really is.
Nikka Costa has nailed the idea of a cover for those adapted tracks. They’re not just her singing them, they’ve been rearranged, rewritten, re-paced and repurposed to fit perfectly on this collection. The reworking of her own numbers, such as “Headfirst” are equally as good though have less impact as they’re by the same original artist.
The one new track is a welcome inclusion and is a lovely number co-written with Justin Parker, an outpouring of emotions describing the loss of friends and loved ones. A word of warning – if you’ve just broken up with someone or are otherwise on a low ebb, don’t put this one on unless you have a supply of hankies and/or a shoulder to cry on within immediate reach.
Nikka & Strings can be summed up by one word I used right back at the start – beautiful. I also think it’s the one album I’ve heard in recent years that would benefit from the crackles of a vinyl version. Many of the songs hark back to a wonderful age in the 50s and that added bit of historical imperfection would be just perfect.
Not an album for the Slayer purist, and I know that’s a large number of our readers. However, for those who like their blues then this is a step further in that direction and one well worth taking a chance on. Expand your horizons. One to listen to with a whisky rather than a beer.
Nikka & Strings is out on June 2nd and can be pre-ordered on iTunes and Amazon ([amazon text=Amazon&asin=B06XY46MGX] / [amazon text=Amazon&asin=B06Y349FRV] / [amazon text=Amazon&asin=B06Y34Z3B4])