THE DEAL: Three years after her debut album, former Charlotte resident Nicole Atkins releases her sophomore effort.
THE GOOD: It's been quite a while since the release of Neptune City, so the 10 tracks here are more than welcome to many fans' ears. While that album was soaked with '50s style soul, Mondo Amore takes broader brush strokes, finding hints of Americana and rock while still gleaning from blues and pop. The album starts out with "Vultures," a toned-down bluesy rocker that builds off the energy usually seen in Atkins' live shows. "Cry Cry Cry" and "You Were the Devil" revisit the '50s style of pop rock with more of a modern twist. "Hotel Plaster" and "War Is Hell" slow things down, not only to showcase more of her vocals, but also her range as a singer. "You Come To Me" revs things up toward surfer rock with reverb on the vocals and a high-impact soul approach to the chorus. "My Baby Don't Lie" sounds like a front porch Americana style foot-stomper that's a bit out of place if not for Atkins' voice.
THE BAD: Only that Atkins doesn't visit more often. She's had a few sold-out nights at Snug and here's to hoping she comes back soon.
THE VERDICT: The album is more upbeat than her debut, showing both growth and versatility. No surprise that Atkins avoided the sophomore slump, she'll continue to win new fans and impress her old ones with Mondo Amore.