Shooting the cover photo for Nikki Lane‘s just-released album Highway Queen was not what one would call low stakes, she explains during her Facebook Live session at Rolling Stone’s Manhattan headquarters in February.
“[The art director] called me like I’m eight hours out of Austin and said, ‘I’ve got two longhorn steers, the photographer’s in the truck, we’re ready,'” Lane said. Within hours, the outlaw country singer found herself straddling two massive longhorn steers. That is, standing in mid-air with one foot placed on each steer’s back.
“I basically got down into my underwear, put on a Thirties dress and rolled around on these steers for two hours out in the field,” Lane said. When it came time to choosing a record cover, the decision was readymade. “These photos were the most descriptive of the pioneer concept – of being a highway queen – of forging a path.”
The charmingly candid Nashville singer (originally from Greenville, South Carolina) performed stripped-down renditions of two rollicking cuts from Queen. Single “Jackpot” and the hilarious, semi-autobiographical “700,000 Rednecks” were transformed with the stark treatment. The performance also gave credence to Lane’s vocal ability, which proved to be as evocative in a casual setting as it is on the record.
Dying to ask your favorite artist something in real time? Like our Rolling Stone Video page on Facebook so you don’t miss when we announce our next live sessions, such as a revealing conversation with Keane singer Top Chaplin and an off-the-cuff performance by indie rock band American Football.