Thursday, January 11, 2024

Danielle Nicole - The Love You Bleed

When this third album by Danielle Nicole kicks off with ‘Love On My Brain’, it doesn’t take long for one of her prime assets to come into play.  The song starts off sultry, over strong’n’steady drums from Go-Go Ray, rising to a catchy chorus, then after a turn around the block, it hits a bridge on which Nicole lets loose her towering voice over crunching chords, socking it to the listener with both range and lung-busting force, reinforced by a sizzling guitar solo from Brandon Miller.
Now, sometimes your biggest strength can also become your biggest weakness, and if Nicole were to let rip here, there and everywhere the result could be overpowering, and not in a good way.  But The Love You Bleed shows that she’s canny enough to realise the value of dynamics.  Her vocal power is kept on a leash enough for it to really make animpact when she does let
Danielle Nicole, a little lady with a big voice - and a big bass
Pic by Missy Faulkner 
go.  And as on her previous outing Cry No More, that discipline is allied to material that offers plenty of light and shade.
So yeah, she gets strident and angsty on the tougher, rockier ‘Head Down Low’, with its bluesy undercurrent and hesitant guitar over her own throbbing bass, and she brings some raunch to ‘Walk On By’, with its jagged, stop-time riffing and stinging wah-wah guitar solo.  But she mines different grooves elsewhere.
‘Make Love’, for example, is a slinky, sunny swatch of soul with hints of – where?  Motown? Memphis?  It comes with a herky-jerky section to shake things up, plus a piercing solo from the consistently impressive  Miller, while La Nicole underlines her vocal talents by adding some smooth harmonies.
A trio of torch song kinda thangs crop up along the way.  There’s ‘Right By Your Side’, with its tasteful slide playing from Miller, and also the lovelorn ballad ‘Say You’ll Stay’ sung from the perspective of someone hanging onto a fragile hope of reconciliation, with an ethereal chorus complemented by cello and violin from Stevie Blacke.  And things get properly fraught with emotion on penultimate track ‘Who He Thinks You Are’, Nicole keeping her voice in check over the slow and soulful, acoustic-led opening, then cranking it up a notch or three on the chorus, in readiness for the tension and release of a spine-tingling long note in the very last line.
But one of the best moments comes when they dial it right down for the delicate ‘A Lover Is Forever’.  Relying on just Nicole’s reflective voice and Miller’s understated, perfectly pitched acoustic guitar, it’s an absorbing, beautifully simple song.  And the closing ‘Young Love On The Hill’ also plays a different, Americana-ish card, with its mandolin and acoustic guitar foundation courtesy of Miller, and cello undertones from Blacke to underscore the elegiac reverie about happy moments in an affair that will never become the real deal.
None of the songs here are going to disappoint, though maybe a few arrangements follow predictable lines, well delivered though they are.  ‘Fool’s Gold’ is an exception though, a bitter tale about someone who isn’t what they seem, well-seasoned by an edgy slide break from Miller, and given an extra twist by some quirky synth inflections from keyboard player Damon Parker.
Danielle Nicole’s name is on the tin, but on The Love You Bleed she benefits from mucho simpatico backing from Miller, Ray et al, and well-balanced production from Tony Braunagel, helping her vocal and songwriting skills to shine.  And shine she does, making this her third soul-stirringly impressive album on the trot.
The Love You Bleed is released by Forty Below Records on 26 January, and can be ordered here.

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