Nicole Atkins has always placed a strong accentuation on production, so describing her as a "singer-songwriter" is somewhat of an oversimplification. On her debut album, "Neptune City," the songwriting was good but was overshadowed by the deliberately cinematic instrumentation of the record production. The cavalry of noise made the tracks feel a bit too crowded. Sure it was impressive and different to anything else out at the time, but it wasn't the right fit for her as a vocalist and artist.
On her sophomore effort, "Mondo Amore" - that dynamic was reversed. Like with her debut, she nailed the melodies and the lyrics, but the backing music felt too dry and incomplete. And for that reason, it didn't live up to it's predecessor.
Enter 2014's "Slow Phaser" - the bowl of porridge which will satiate Goldilocks' appetite. Her songwriting here is better than it's ever been. The recording and composition of the tracks are dark, evocative and gorgeous. For instance, on "Gasoline Bride" she describes herself as a scorned lover with "hair on fire walking down the aisle". Earlier in the record, on the track "We Wait Too Long," Atkins offers a different sound than anything else she's ever put out, a bass-heavy gem that stays mild throughout. Each track is the perfect timing, making the album easy to listen through on repeat without feeling impatient or bored.
On this record, she gets it right. She's found the right balance of songwriting, production and sequencing. That makes this one her best yet.