We all remember Nikka Costa’s ‘Like A Feather,’ released in 2011, a very catchy tune with a nasty Prince feel. Since then Costa has released five albums (one in Spanish), and several EPs, and mixed with genres along the way. She has worked with the late Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Mark Ronson, the list goes on, and she knows what she’s doing.
For, Nikka & Strings Underneath & In Between she’s gone back toalmost a clean slate. This is a cover album, but don’t let that be something to run from. Most of the songs have been covered before, which is brave of Costa, and they obviously have meaning to her. It also helps that the choices are excellent, covering songs like the infamous ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’ and ‘Cry to Me.’
There is no doubting Costa’s vocal range, bringing a strong smooth sound to every song. The one original track written for the album is ‘Arms Around,’ written with Justin Parker (hats off also to Jeff Babko’s string arrangement). Standout songs ‘Come Rain or Come Shine,’ made famous by Frank Sinatra (working with Costa’s father Don Costa) and Jeff Buckley’s ‘Lover Should Come Over’ add real weight to this album.
Costa also makes ‘Stormy Weather’ her own, with a broke down arrangement that adds real swing to the song. Her version of ‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying’ again uses a smooth approach, giving plenty of room for a gliding voice. Talking about this choice, she said, “I choose this song because I love the sass and empowerment aspect of the lyric.” There is plenty of sass to this project that can be clearly felt through Costa’s voice and choice of arrangement.
Costa also ends up covering herself, in a different version of her previous work ‘Head First’, giving it a slow jazz take. Her earlier take turned up on ProWhoa EP, that version being a funk-invested toe-tapper. The new version gives the album its best track, Costa’s voice taking on a falsetto Marvin Gaye tint.Costa has shown many colours on this album and succeeded in finding the “sass and empowerment” she was looking for. A mixed bag indeed, but like a pick ’n’ mix, you will find your favorite, and also something new to chew on. The only question for Miss Costa is what next?
‘Nikka & Strings, Underneath and in Between’ is Released on June 2nd 2017 by Metropolis Recordings
Pre-order the new album from Amazon.co.uk & iTunes
Available on Standard CD Digipack with 8 page booklet
Digital album release (stream / download)
Standard 12″ black heavyweight vinyl design
Deluxe double 12″ vinyl gatefold with special edition slip case
plus live to vinyl and live performance on USB
Nikka Costa Online