Album Reviews

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers – Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers (Little Sur)

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Nicki Bluhm & The GramblersThe dynamic and versatile singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm is about to take the leap from a mostly regional Bay Area act to a major draw on the jam band and roots circuits.  After solo efforts and duo releases with her multi-instrumentalist husband Tim Bluhm, they’ve formed The Gramblers.  This band can do it all: play jangling guitars, provide killer harmonies, and jam.  Check out “Burnt” on YouTube to capture Nicki’s magnetic stage presence and the Garcia-like guitar leads from Deren Ney.  It’s a bit like the Grateful Dead being fronted by a vocalist blending the attributes of Grace Slick, Joan Jett, and Bonnie Bramblett in one powerful singer.

This debut album offers catchy hooks, hints of Southern country soul, and highly melodic roots tunes that reflect both strong songwriting and astute musicianship.  The opener, “Little Too Late” is perfect for airplay.  Nicki has impressive range in her voice and in styles; equally comfortable rocking or crooning in a more soulful vein as on “Nothin’”, or “Check Your Head”.  “Deep Water” epitomizes the group’s strong harmonies in support of Nicki.  Bluhm also has an irresistible sultry quality as you’ll hear in the murder ballad, “Ravenous”.   Bet you’ll play this repeatedly. 

– Jim Hynes

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