Nikki Hill: Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists

Old-school rock’n’soul with fistfuls of attitude.

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North Carolina’s Nikki Hill is blessed with the kind of classic soul voice that could place her comfortably at any point in the history of modern music from the mid-50s onwards – feminine and tough, rich, but with that devilish Tina Turner rasp that hints at mischief to come.

There’s a lot of character at play here. In And I Wonder she paints a picture of a woman not quite in control of her wicked side, attracting the wrong element and loving it. Vocally at least, this particular track is swimming in similar waters to the searing, heart-on-sleeve honesty of Amy Winehouse.

And while the songwriting here falls short of the magic of Camden’s favourite daughter – it’s too focused on recreating a live barroom feel to transcend the shackles of trad blues tropes on the likes of (Let Me Tell You ’Bout) Luv – the easy boogie of Hot Shot could happily nestle among AC/DC’s back pages.

Meanwhile, the soft-centred Nothin’ With You is so perfectly pitched for a cosy Sunday afternoon indoors, it ought to be served up with a bowlful of apple crumble.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.