Album Review: Nikki Lane - "Highway Queen"
By Ian Bremner
Nikki Lane, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, figured if she could someday earn as many fans as people who live in her hometown, she’d be doing just fine. She guesstimated that number to be around 700,000 Rednecks (an endearing term). In reality, it’s actually 70,000, but…all for the sake of the song. Fatefully, she ended up in Nashville, where the population is actually far more accurate to the song title.
With as much talent as there is in Nashville, it takes someone special to rise to the top, and Nikki Lane has carved out her own world within her adopted hometown. Nikki owns her own vintage store in town called High Class Hillbilly, and while her true calling may have been in the fashion world, her music career seems to have come just as naturally. Her dream of owning her own line of jeans has taken a detour but she has found a way to grow her vintage business while touring her music. Lane has created the luxury of going antiquing and pillaging consignment shops all over the country before shows. The money she makes on tour goes to her shopping habits and by the time she gets back to Nashville, she has a van full of new inventory.
Between fashion and music, her network of talented friends stretches from Los Angeles to New York and everywhere in between. The new record title, Highway Queen, seems a far more literal nickname than however tongue-in-cheek it’s supposed to be. She’s hit the Jackpot with ten sharp, quick-witted country tunes that boast a vintage country pop production.
Her 2015 album, All Or Nothin’, produced by Dan Auerbach (Black Keys, The Arcs), was charmingly badass. For Highway Queen, she and boyfriend Jonathan Tyler took the producing reins giving her sound a slightly more stripped down feel, but with all the southern atmospheric punch as anything she’s ever done. The recording process even had her crew logging highway miles, taking her from Nashville to Texas to New York City at Electric Lady Studios.
One day she hopes the merch booth at her shows will essentially become pop-up shops for her vintage store. With her impressive catalog and many highway miles left in her, that’s another dream that may come to fruition.