Album Review: Nikki Lane shows her sassy side on Highway Queen

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Nikki Lane, Highway Queen

Nikki Lane‘s third album, Highway Queen, details a Southerner’s journey through heartbreak. Lane embodies classic ’60s country melodies with a modern spin. The singer-songwriter’s mesh of musical genres puts her latest album on the map.

Highway Queen
Nikki Lane
Feb. 17

The 10-song album opens with an ode to the South with “700,000 Rednecks.” Lane wrangles in listeners with a grand “Yippee Ki Yay” shout while a bluesy guitar amplifies the wattage. The album progresses into a sassy Southern guide to living as a helpless romantic. The rumbling guitar and harmonic piano, played by The Texas Gentlemen, capture the outlaw persona Lane personifies. The title track is a symbol of female independence as Lane sings, “A highway queen don’t need no king.”

Lane, inspired by artists like Loretta Lynn, uses her Southern twang to her advantage. But instead of sticking to traditional country sound, her music fuses catchy pop lyrics, heart-thumping guitar riffs and soulful background piano. Single “Jackpot” tells the tale of a Vegas adventure. Lane sings “Jackpot/ I hit the number and it was always you.”

Halfway through the album, Lane transitions from playing hard to get to reminiscing about a past love. The guitar becomes more subtle and the piano is brought to the forefront. Lane’s raspy voice turns raw on songs like “Companion” and “Foolish Heart,” nostalgic of a past relationship.

The 37-minute album ends with “Forever Lasts Forever,” where Lane mourns her failed marriage. Lane opens the song belting “The only ring left on my finger is a lighter shade of skin.” The vulnerability and sadness in her voice melts effortlessly with the soft guitar.

Living in Los Angeles and New York, Lane always comes back to her Nashville roots. Highway Queen exhibits influences from these metropolitan destinations, but nothing can capture Lane’s true feelings like country music.

Follow columnist Ruby Virchow at Twitter.com/RubyVirchow.

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