Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
This West Coast singer/songwriter doesn’t shy away from her influences. From Bluhm’s Linda Ronstadt circa Heart Like a Wheel hairstyle to the shot of her thumbing through vinyl records that opens a recent video and a handful of wonderfully rootsy performances recorded in an automobile as she travels with her Gramblers to shows, Bluhm is a philosophical, if not literal, child of the ’70s. Even the name of her Little Sur label evokes the era. So it’s no surprise that her folk-pop follows suit. It has a warmth and melodic approach that takes the best aspects of the 70s West Coast sound and adds strains of country and soul with her smoky vocals for an album any fan of Carly Simon, Nicolette Larson or the Eagles will appreciate. From the bluesy “Kill You to Call” to the sweetly strumming opener “Carousel” (whose circular lyrics also reference spinning records), Bluhm’s retro influenced set feels as organic and natural as her enticing sun drenched cover photo and vibrantly performed ad hoc van videos.