Nikki Lane
Highway Queen
(New West Records)

For her latest record, Nashville-based Nikki Lane makes good on the promises of her first two albums. She manages to summon everyone from Wanda Jackson and Neko Case to Exene Cervenka on Highway Queen, her best record yet.

Her last album got a lot of attention, in part because it was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, but on songs like the brilliantly wry opener, “10,000 Rednecks” or the flawless “Jackpot,” Lane proves that while the extra attention may have helped, she certainly has the talent to justify the consideration. I’m leery of tossing out a term like country to describe her sound as glam dudes in expensive jeans with embroidered pockets have pretty much trashed the label, but Lane’s lyrical prowess recalls some of the best names from the ‘70s, folks like Waylon, Willie and Kristofferson. And Lane’s raspy deliver perfectly punctuates a song like “Companion” or “Big Mouth.” She closes the record with the melancholy, tear in my beer track “Forever Lasts Forever,” the would even impress Hank Williams. A few more albums like this and country music may no longer be a slur.

Purchase the album here.

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