“Safe and slick” is how I described Danni Nicholls’ second studio album Mockingbird Lane which was released in 2015. Four years on, the follow up produced by Jordan Brooke Hamlin at a woodland studio in Nashville has much the same mood.
It was made with the help of a team of mostly female Nashville artists including Annie Clements, Larissa Maestro, Kyshona Armstrong, Jordan Brooke Hamlin, Gena Johnson and backing vocals from The Secret Sisters duo. Working almost exclusively with women was a deliberate choice since Nicholls wanted to address the ongoing gender imbalance in the music industry.
The eleven songs are tastefully arranged, elegantly played and soulfully sung in a manner that put me in mind of Norah Jones. Nicholls says the record is “a delicate, vibey, honest and vulnerable collection of songs” and while I wouldn’t take issue with this description, for me there’s something just a little too refined and smooth about the sound.
With tunes about yearning for escape, needing to be alone and feeling Frozen, there’s no shortage of raw emotions although these are presented in a polished and sanitized form.
The final track is called Hopeless Romantic and she sings “still I believe in a fairytale love”. The cynic in me finds it hard to concur but if you are one who identifies with this life philosophy you’ll doubtless find beauty and solace in this record.
Danni Nicholls’ website