Best Albums of 2018: Nicki Bluhm – To Rise You Gotta Fall

To Rise, You Gotta Fall is a pretty solid description for the newly released record from Nicki Bluhm. Having recently ended a long term relationship and moving from the San Francisco Bay area to Nashville, Nicki shares her journey every step of the way with the listener. Recorded in Memphis at the Sam Phillips studio, the record has a deliciously retro vibe about it that is part 50’s Phil Spector girl group and part early 70’s country queen. The title track lays down a Memphis Soul Groove that is Dusty Springfield worthy.

Produced by Matt Ross-Spang, the man who knob-twirled most recently for Margo Price and Jason Isbell, the arrangements are of the first class variety. “Battlechain Rose” is a clear stunner describing in some detail her inner feelings she was dealing with in her personal life.

On the mournful bluesy Ballad “You Stopped Loving Me (I Can’t Stop Loving You)” the Hammond B-3 and Johnny Gimble are featured floating in and out in just the right places. A bit of a lover scorned push-back is provided courtesy of a cover of Dan Penn’s “Hate You” even though the closing track “Last to Know” gives every indication that she is completely over the relationship as she says “You Can’t Fool a Fool Any Longer.” Listen to this once, then grab a glass of wine and give this one another whirl. The leader in the clubhouse for the break-up album of the year.