By Martine Ehrenclou
Powerhouse singer, songwriter, bassist, Danielle Nicole, has a new album, Cry No More, set to release February 23rd via Concord Records.
And what an album it is.
With through-the-roof emotional vocals, Cry No More is no ordinary blues-roots album with an R&B twist. It’s rootsy with a musical edge and some of the best vocals I’ve heard in a very long time. Cry No More is a standout album with exquisite musicianship by Nicole, her band, and a cast of all-star guest musicians.
Danielle Nicole is superb. What a voice, what a band, what great songs. You have to hear her to believe it. After her family band, Trampled Underfoot, she fast became a headlining artist. Her debut album, Wolf Den, proved that she could hold her own and then some. She was the first woman to win The Blues Foundation’s 2014 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist-bass.
Celebrated guest musicians join Nicole and her band on the album, including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Luther Dickinson, Walter Trout, Sonny Landreth, and more, in addition to veteran producer Tony Braunagel (Taj Mahall, Bonnie Raitt) on drums, Johnny Lee Schell on guitar (Bonnie Raitt) and her touring guitarist, Brandon Miller.
A gutsy and emotionally charged singer with a vocal range to die for, Nicole co-wrote nine out of the 14 songs with Braunagel.
“Crawl” cracks open this outstanding album with a blues-rocker. Nicole blows the doors off this tune with her powerhouse vocals. The use of imagery and inventive lyrics add to some great songwriting on this track. And the band? Super tight.
“I’m Going Home,” a blues-roots number with a wailing slide guitar courtesy of Sonny Landreth, has a gospel feel, complete with backing singers. This is a darker song, more roots-rock than blues perhaps.
I hadn’t heard Danielle Nicole before this album. I was so blown away by her voice, I just kept thinking, damn…. this is some singer… watch out Aretha. Sometimes there are just no words when you hear a powerful singer who grabs songs with both hands and doesn’t let go until they’re totally hers. And the tracks here, are definitely Nicole’s. In time, I’m certain she’ll be right up there with Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, and possibly the blues-roots master, Keb’ Mo’.
That’s how good she is.
“Hot Spell,” is an original and unrecorded song given to Nicole by legendary R&B artist, Bill Withers, after he heard her sing. It opens with some scintillating guitar licks and grooves into a modern and sleek interpretation of the R&B tune. She pulls back a bit to honor the feel of the track with rich and sometimes seductive vocals.
A soul-infused number, “Burnin’ For You” opens with Walter Trout on guitar. His licks match the quality of her vocals and this track, like others on the album, has some interesting chord progressions. Trout plays a gripping guitar solo that kicks in after an organ section. As I listened to it, I fully believed this songstress as she belted, “I’m past the boiling point of no return, I just can’t take the heat.” You’ll believe her too.
It doesn’t happen often that a singer and band make the hair on my arms stand on end.
The title track, “Cry No More” is about “moving on and letting go” according to Danielle Nicole. You can’t help but make a Bonnie Raitt comparison to the song itself. Nicole understands what each track calls for and “Cry No More” is no exception.
“Bobby” a song Nicole wrote for her late father, changes the pace a bit with a country-ish roots tune accented by acoustic guitar and tambourine. Nicole’s heart is in it—even on the highest notes you can feel it.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd graces, “Save Me” with his unmistakable guitar prowess and tone. This is a blues-rocker and Nicole fuels energy and emotion into it.
“How Come U Don’t Call Me” is a heart breaker if I ever heard one. Part R&B, part Soul, Nicole’s vocal styling and phrasing compliment this tune.
Closing the album “I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’,” features Luther Dickinson. It kicks off with Nicole on vocals and only a crack of drums. This is a standout track on the album and wraps things up with a rootsy blues bang.
A must have album!
For more information about Cry No More and Danielle Nicole: