Some albums are suited for playing in the background while doing dishes, enjoying a meal or — as attempted in this case — writing a review. Bleeding Diamonds, the EP from Nicole Atkins, is not one of those albums. The disc demands the listener’s attention.
That doesn’t mean the listener will especially dig the six tracks therein; it’s just that the production — and in particular Atkins’ keening voice — is such that it will not be ignored. More akin to the art-pop stylings of Tori Amos than the straight-ahead approach of Sheryl Crow, Atkins’ work here is delicate yet forceful. This reviewer was not particularly moved by the songs, but was left with this impression: fans of this sort of music will find plenty to like.
Atkins’ voice is neither off key nor overwrought, yet there’s something about it that this listener found unappealing. And that’s odd: Atkins is technically adept (to co-opt American Idol-speak, there’s no “pitchiness,” dawg). Perhaps the vocals are mixed a bit too much to the fore. And perhaps it’s all just quibbling. The general pace of the songs is either dreamy or dreary, depending on the listener’s perspective; the second track, “Snowshakes,” picks things up a bit and is easily the most accessible track on the disc.
It’s hard to know where such an EP as this will find its niche. Undeniably talented, and poised for greater things (the full-length follow-up will be on the shelves by the time you read this), Nicole Atkins may be another in a long line of great musicians in search of a market.