My first time through Neptune City, Nicole Atkins’s throwback phrasing and the sweeping production were appealing, but something didn’t seem quite right. The more I’ve heard the disc, the less it’s enthralled me, maybe because it’s all a little bit too contrived. The falseness of the theatrical charade eventually began to come through.
Neptune City is essentially a major-label attempt to backwards-engineer the Amy Winehouse success formula, only instead of the old-school R&B concept, they’ve retrofitted Atkins with some 60s orch-pop nostalgia more typical of Timi Yuro or Dusty Springfield. A Jenny Lewis haircut and a Red Ink release instead of Sony BMG completes the “indie” look. It just about worked.
Nicole Atkins and the Sea play Lee’s Palace February 17.