Nikka Costa - can'tneverdidnothin'
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 17, 2005
Review by Tony BonyataMove over Avril, Christina and Britney, 'cause there's a new girl in town and she's one bad...shut your mouth!
Following her strong 2001 debut Everybody Got Their Something singer extraordinaire Nikka Costa has just finished her second full-length effort entitled can'tneverdidnothin' . On it the daughter of legendary producer Don Costa not only continues in the direction from her previous work but also manages to one-up it with a collection of songs that taps directly into the heart of golden age '70s soul, funk and R&B.
With a commanding voice that directly channels the soul of Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, not to mention the funk of Chaka Khan and even James Brown, it seems almost unfathomable that this little firecracker isn't black. Not since Joplin has a white girl sang with such a believable sense of black soul. But whereas Joplin's influences were steeped in Southern blues, Costa's oozes with the sexy sounds found deep in the grooves of record labels from the 1970s such as Tamla, Hi, King and Stax.
The album kicks off with a brash howl in the grand tradition of the Godfather of Soul on "'Till I Get To You" before a funky bassline and rubbery wah wah guitar puts some meat on the bones of this infectious number. On the following title track Nikka growls and groans over a greasy slice of funk that sounds like lost gem from a blaxploitation flick.
On the songs "Around The World" and the smooth ballad "I Gotta Know" Costa successfully taps into an AM radio pop structure that dominated the airwaves three decades ago, while making it sound fresh all over again. Even on the number "On and On" the red-haired siren struts her stuff as she sensually purrs and snarls over a thundering Zeppelin-esque riff that proves that funk and soul isn't the only thing she's got in her brand new bag. The album closes with a playful acoustic rendition of Nina Simone's "Sugar in My Bowl," where Costa delivers not only a teasing vocal over Joshua Lopez' simple guitar, but also a smile-inducing yet effective "mouth trumpet" to keep things interesting.
The majority of the album was not only co-written by Costa and bassist Justin Stanley, but also produced by the duo as well. And it's this authentic production, along with the singer's explosive, expressive voice, that keeps the essence of the funk and soul so real.
Sexy, seductive and superbad, Nikka Costa is a much-needed anecdote for the factory-molded, plastic talents of today's bubblegum babes and American Idols. "It's just a matter of time till I get to you," Nikka coos at one point, and after just one listen you'll immediately discover that time is now.
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