Music » Critics' Picks

Nicole Atkins

9 p.m. Thursday, June 30. The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street.

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The major-label heartbreak that effectively buried Nicole Atkins' debut Neptune City (which was delayed and eventually languished on Columbia Records) has nothing on the real-life heartbreak that inspired her recent indie-label LP, Mondo Amore. On the new disc, Atkins outlines the lows of romantic dissolution with such lyrical clarity and vocal force that it's hard not to get caught up in the moment. Atkins credits her teenage years spent singing with her dad's pickup blues band with helping hone her fearless, oceanic vocals — most white girls from Jersey don't sing like this. Her backing band, the Black Sea, gives a pliant, in-the-pocket bounce to these songs, from the strident twang of "Cry Cry Cry" to the mournful sway on "Hotel Plaster."

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