Being her fifth album release, singer and songwriter Nikki Lane has been known for her soulful, mid-century bluegrass music. Having a reputation of creating a vintage country atmosphere with her tracks, her latest album seems to be a return to that sound. However, she has spiced it up with rock influences. What is interesting about this album is the underlying tone of “Mom, I am a rich man”, a pleasantry made famous by Cher. This quote is even broadly stated in the album’s title track.
Last year, Lane joined Lana Del Rey in collaborating on “Breaking Up Slowly”, in which she co-wrote. The song is a different style for Lane as it reflects more of Del Rey’s “sad girl” persona. The song does circle back to the influence of “vintage glamour” that both artist’s fancy.
Nikki Lane’s appeal in “Denim and Diamonds” is apparent in the lyrics and style choices. Her lyrics are clever and hardcore with songs such as “Black Widow” where she is unapologetically gritty as the song is about the realities of a “dangerous woman”. The song, “Try Harder” is a soulful ballad reflective of her vintage sound. Its positive with lyrics like, “Sometimes you got to try a little harder/try a little harder to get what you want/keep singing/sometimes you got to try a little harder/push a little farther just to make it on your own.” The song is an example of female independence and empowerment.
Lane sings with soul and power; allowing herself to sound as if she really means every word. She brings a sense of rawness to every lyric. She isn’t cookie-cutter like most other country singers tend to be. She owns her craft and sings like she not only commands the room but reveals words of wisdom to her listeners.
However, when making the album, Lane admits that she wasn’t very interested in releasing new music. “I hadn’t made a record in years and did not really feel interested in making another one," she shared. “What I realized was how many little nuggets I was sitting on.”
Lane shared on social media that she was inspired by her hometown and family, ”…this record is about revisiting the past – taking note of how it got you to the present – and then blowing it a kiss as you barrel towards whatever the future holds.”
Days after the album was released, her grandfather passed away. ”Yesterday, my family laid my grandad to rest in South Carolina – with a bottle of Coca-Cola in his hand – in the tiny town that “First High” is about. The same family that inspired the lyrics for “Born Tough”, and “Pass It Down”– and also the pain of a song like “Faded”. The same family who raised a small-town girl to feel like she could do anything, and you can’t say shit.” Lane said in an interview.
She admitted in an interview that she was content supporting and contributing to music by Lana Del Rey, Spiritualized, and Sierra Farrell. With the push from The Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme, she brought herself back to life. With the album’s more driving beat and gutsy bass and guitar, it feels like a punchier take that is more exciting and still true to her style.
Reviewed by Gabrielle Thompson