What is it with the recent explosion of male singer/songwriters? Almost like buses, none show up for ages and then all of a sudden a billion swarm you and the one that everyone jumps onboard turns out to be James Blunt. And where have all the female singer/songwriters gone? It seems that when there is a rise in one sex playing guitar the other goes into decline and I, for one, am at a lose to explain why this happens. So it gave me a great joy when Bleeding Diamonds landed on my doorstep. Perhaps this was the change in fortunes that would lead to the return of the opposite sex.
First things first, let's get it out of the way; Nicole Atkins is not the new Joni Mitchell. Now that we've made that overly used and almost clichÃÂ©d comparison let's get on to talk about a fantastic six track EP. Bleeding Diamonds is a great showcase for a great lyricist and breathtaking voice. The EP kicks off with the title track, a song about the war in Iraq from the vantage point of a woman awaiting the safe return of her man in combat. While the music is light and airy, the vocals give away the dark and scary world of hoping that a loved one will be okay. The frankly amazing line of "And the sky looks like it is bleeding diamonds" to describe the video footage of the bombing raids gives a poetic and fantastical sound that romanticizes the 24 hour coverage of the destruction of another country.
The short but sweet "Snowshakes" and upbeat and playful "Carouselle" follow and both show off Atkins' songwriting strengths, but it is "War Torn" that really makes this EP so special. About a long distance relationship falling apart, Atkins' manages to convey the mixed emotions of it all ending in a solemn and powerful way. This is also the track that her backing band Ã¢â¬ËThe Sea' comes to the fore, making music that perfectly captures the mood and fits with Atkins delivery to create an almost perfect pop rock moment that will touch even the toughest of hardcore kids.
The main problem is that six songs just isn't enough and at the end of the EP you find yourself wanting more of Atkins soaring vocals that the running time just doesn't give you. However Bleeding Diamonds does give you the sense that Nicole Atkins is someone to watch. I for one will be keeping an eye on this star of the future.
8.0 / 10
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