new music: nikki hill’s ‘heavy hearts, hard fists’ is vintage perfection #soundcheck

October 16, 2015

It seems almost criminal to listen to Nikki Hill’s latest record, Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists on a laptop. This smokey celebration of vintage rock and roll belongs on a portable wood-paneled turntable or an ancient grimy jukebox in the diviest dive bar. Or ideally: on stage.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

The band’s sound splits the difference between Chuck Berry, Ike and Tina, and AC/DC. An explosive fit of old blues riffs played at top volume by husband and wife duo Nikki and Matt Hill. Nikki’s vocals are stripped down, polished not through studio perfection but through constant touring; that kind of lived-in felt perfection that no quantization or pitch-correction could fake. Nikki Hill’s emotional and powerful voice plays against Matt’s lean riffs nowhere better than on lead single “Struttin’.” When the band locks in with an easy and propulsive drive it’s almost impossible not to imagine their live set.

When Nikki Hill and co slow it down on the stunning ballad “Nothing With You,” the duo’s songwriting chops are able to truly shine. There’s nothing like a duet between a singer and her sideman about life on the road. Nikki Hill caps it off with an explosive cover of the Sam Cooke classic “Twisting the Night Away.” The rhythm section’s lived-in-chemistry anchors the song between tempo and feel changes. On an album constructed like an amazing live set, it provides the perfect endcap to the night.

‘Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists’ is out today on iTunes and wherever digital music is sold.