Music writers often use the term “natural R & B” to connote some vague rebellion against the showbizzy silken balladry at the top of the charts, a la the hip-hop crowd’s campaign to “keep it real” and indie rockers’ hand-wringing over “authenticity.” But none of these empty debates has any net effect on the largely apolitical music business, so the natural R & B world will probably find room for Nikka Costa, a white show-business brat who at age 29 is in the midst of her second comeback. The daughter of producer-arranger-conductor Don Costa (who worked with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Anka, and Connie Francis, among others), she made her professional singing debut at age five and had platinum records in Europe and South America by age eight. After two albums as a big-hearted moppet, she was reincarnated in the late 80s as a teen Euro-pop sweetheart, and in the mid-90s, living in Australia, she emerged for a third time as a wild soul diva, snagging a deal with Virgin Records after her song “Like a Feather” turned up in a Tommy Hilfiger commercial. Produced by her husband, Justin Stanley, and New York DJ Mark Ronson, Everybody Got Their Something cleaves between taut breakbeat-driven 70s funk (“Hope It Felt Good,” “Like a Feather,” the title track) and sluggish ballads (“Nothing,” “Push & Pull,” “Corners of My Mind”). The singer recently told Rolling Stone that she’s calling the shots now, after being put through the paces as a youngster, so this will be the Chicago debut of the real Nikka Costa–whatever that means. Miranda Lee Richards, a sometime singer with the Brian Jonestown Massacre who’s recently released her solo debut on Virgin, opens. Sunday, December 2, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Julie Fowells.