Razor & Tie
Nicole Atkins' second album is an exercise in what you might call brunch blues: Dreamy, vaguely melancholic, thoroughly pleasant. The New Jersey-born singer-songwriter has a forceful and unfussy singing style that brings welcome drama to sleepy Fifties throwbacks like "This Is for Love" and rises to a wail on more agitated, roots-rock-inflected numbers like "Vultures" and "You Come to Me." Atkins' lyrics describe insatiable wanderlust and the travails of mixing up with no-good dudes — she falls for one on "Cry Cry Cry" and offers others hyperspecific advice on "Hotel Plaster." "Don't shake the change out of your pockets in the boudoir," she instructs. Noted!