Last fall when I first got a copy of Neptune City (Red Ink/Columbia), the debut album from singer Nicole Atkins, I skipped through it and then put it aside. Maybe I was turned off by her designation by Rolling Stone as an artist to watch, but I was wrong to be. Since she performs tomorrow night at the Subterranean I thought I’d give it another listen a few days ago, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long–after three spins it has taken up residence in my head. Much has been made of how the title track is named after the Jersey Shore town near Asbury Park where she grew up, and indeed she uses that song to visit the trusty “you can’t go home again” trope, but it’s Atkins’s rare gift for melody, not her smart lyrics, that’s captivated me. The record was produced by Sweden’s Tore Johansson (Cardigans, Franz Ferdinand, Saint Etienne), who did an amazing job crafting the lush, cinematic setting for the tunes, bringing a beguiling noirishness to the table. It makes me think of Rufus Wainwright if he was into Roy Orbison instead of Judy Garland.

Today’s playlist:

Laub, Deinetwegen (AGF)
Oliver Lake, John Tchicai, Kresten Osgood & Jonas Westergaard, s/t (Passin’ Thru)
Timo Shanko, The Charlatan and the Genius (Skycap)
Clydie King, The Imperial & Minit Years (EMI Stateside)
Lasse Marhaug, It’s Not the End of the World (Quasi Pop)