At once operatic and bluesy, Atkins' voice vacillates between a cool Neko Case alto and a deep Janis Joplin howl. Emerging from a year in which she shed a label, a band and a long-term boyfriend, the singer-songwriter put all of her energy into February's Mondo Amore, collaborating with Cotton Mather's Robert Harrison in a Park Slope, Brooklyn, studio.
The Paste magazine party on Austin's frenetic Sixth Street was a particularly high-profile stop on the band's promotional tour for the album. They put on a soulful, captivating show, with a lush, dark wall of sound behind Atkins' wailing vocals of love gone bad. The audience stood transfixed and some surely joined a growing list of devotees, over 300 of whom recently raised more than $20,000 on the website Kickstarter to help the band get a tour van and light show. We weren't the only ones who noticed: Spin magazine called Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea the best live band of the festival.