By Meredith Deliso
Nicole Atkins may have made a name for herself in the Asbury Park music community, but the New Jersey native is ready for a change.
“Asbury Park is awesome, and it’s my home. I know everyone, but I like being able to walk down the street and not know someone,” says the musician. “It’s a bit ‘Groundhog Day’ around here when it’s not the summer.”
Atkins itch might soon be scratched, as the singer/songwriter is looking to make a return to New York City, and is most likely to land in Brooklyn.
“It’s back to Brooklyn, thank god,” says Atkins, who’s previously lived in Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bensonhurst. “Wherever’s spacious and affordable. I might be barking up the wrong tree. We’ll see.”
The musician finds herself in Brooklyn soon enough, playing with her band, The Black Sea, August 6 at The Bell House.
“We’ve been trying to play our own show at The Bell House for a while now,” says Atkins, whose played before at the Gowanus venue with A.C. Newman. “I feel in love with the place. They’re killing it lately.”
As of late, Atkins has been pumping out covers, with last fall’s EP “Nicole Atkins Digs Other People’s Songs” finding the songstress covering The Doors, The Mamas & the Papas, The Church and Nada Surf. (Check out her blog for free tracks and covers, including most recently a cover of Michael Jackson's Ben.)
She has plenty of original material up her sleeve, though, and is currently working on a new record with a relatively new lineup (hence the slight name change to her band name, for those familiar with the artist as Nicole Atkins & the Sea). Luckily, the sound isn’t getting blacker.
“A lot of the orchestral elements are toned down. It’s more guitar rock, 70s rock,” says the singer, known for her mixing of traditional vocal styles and introspective lyrics in what she calls “pop-noir.” “Perfect summer make out jams.”
With an expressive voice that’s made her somewhat of a female Roy Orbison, Atkins has had a bit of fun trying to relay this emotion to her bandmates, comprised of Christopher Donofrio on drums, Brad York on guitars, and Anthony Chick on bass.
“It’s hilarious even trying to explain to my band how things should go,” she says. “Like, I don’t just want them to play the key, I want them to feel the key, like some weird, creepy art teacher.”
Between days spent in the recording studio hashing out those keys and mornings at the beach in Asbury Park, Atkins has found herself in a nice groove. And while the town has been good to her – in 2002 the Asbury Music Awards named her Top Female Vocalist and Best Solo Act, and her single “Neptune City” Song of the Year – she’s looking forward to meeting new people.
“I love Asbury Park and will probably die here, which sounds morbid,” she says. “While I can, I’d like to get to the city for a bit. I miss it.”
Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea play The Bell House (149 7th St.) August 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, and the show is 18+. Also on the bill are Bird of Youth. For more information, go call 718-643-6510.