Where Atkins’ own triumphant Slow Phaser headline tour featured backing from a five member ensemble, necessity demanded she travel alongside Cave with a leaner, more efficient set-up comprised of herself, guitarist Dave Rosen, and drummer Chris Donofrio. Atkins & Co. stripped away some of the intricate, inventive instrumentation found on her studio recordings and discovered an altogether different approach towards her own music. Though not a power trio in the traditional sense, the three musicians amp up the passion and energy in Atkins’ already intensely emotional songcraft, employing space and stark simplicity to set her extraordinary voice at the forefront like never before. Live At The Masonic Temple immediately joins the shortlist of truly classic live albums, its force, directness and muscular performance not unlike some lost concert recording unearthed from Atkins’ beloved golden age of 70s rock ‘n’ roll.
“The sound that we made was larger than any sound I’ve ever gotten from a five or six piece band,” Atkins says. “Simplifying the music, bringing it down to where there’s only three things happening, it really just cut away all the fat. When you hear ‘The Tower’ or ‘Red Ropes’ performed live by just three people, it’s powerful stuff. With the three piece, all of my songs sound classic and evil.”
Atkins – who has only just returned home from a hugely successful headline tour of Europe and the United Kingdom – will wrap up her brilliant 2014 with a number of unique live dates, including a December 18th show at Philadelphia’s World Café Live, presented by WXPN 88.5. The concert is heralded by WXPN’s “Vinyl At Heart” promotional campaign, with Atkins prominently featured on striking digital billboards, buses, and trains located throughout the Philadelphia metro area.
In addition, Atkins is set for an eagerly awaited headline show at Washington, DC’s Rock & Roll Hotel on December 19th, followed by a very special homecoming spectacular at Asbury Park’s world famous Stone Pony on December 20th. Other upcoming events include an intimate post-Christmas performance at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art, slated for December 26th as well as a just announced 2015 date supporting the great Mavis Staples, scheduled for February 21st at Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre in West Long Branch, New Jersey. For regularly updated information, please visit www.nicoleatkins.com.
Slow Phaser was greeted by the most ecstatic notices of Atkins’ much-admired career, with The New York Daily News’ Jim Farber declaring it “a super-catchy, highly danceable argument for Atkins to be seen as one of the great swaggering women of rock. In her snarky huff, Atkins recalls Chrissie Hynde. In her New York mix of hauteur and humor, she brings to mind Debbie Harry… Her voice ties it all together, with a sound sure enough to let the vulnerability of her words proudly show… Gleaming in tone, piercing in volume and unstoppable in attitude, it rips right through you.”
Elsewhere, USA Today applauded Atkins’ “penchant for creating enticingly mysterious pop-rock.” “When Nicole Atkins sings, she sounds like Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Janis Joplin all rolled into one voice,” enthused NPR (with host Scott Simon complimenting her for possessing “a voice that could melt the heart of a devil. Sense of humor dryer than a drought…”) The Boston Globe praised Slow Phaser‘s “immaculate popcraft” and commended Atkins for “releasing three remarkable albums.” “Nicole Atkins has continued to push boundaries creatively,” declared Paste, while The New Yorker singled out “Girl You Look Amazing” as “the rarest of things: a nutritious confection.”
In the UK, The Daily Mirror awarded Slow Phaser four stars, noting the album “bursts with attitude and vitality… (Atkins’) lustrous vocals, irresistible swagger and compositional ingenuity excel here.” Atkins has been “blessed with a siren voice of innate and intricate grace and restraint,” noted The Sunday Times, adding, “Buy this.”
“For all of the twists and turns in musical directions Slow Phaser takes, Atkins negotiates them all with remarkable ease and dexterity,” wrote The Line of Best Fit. “Just like her songwriting, her singing has developed and matured.” “Slow Phaser is a big step forward for Atkins,” exclaimed Blurt. “Lyrically her songs have never been better, and couple that with her throaty, soothing vocals and the orchestra pop music backing and this record is not only her best yet, but one of the best releases 2014 has offered so far.”