As she goes, Nikki Lane speaks quickly. The exuberant singer-songwriter is rushing through Nashville’s lavish Hotel Indigo, greeting hands and arranging the stock.
Her latest endeavor, a cozy outpost of her vintage shop High-Class Hillbilly in the hotel lobby, needs to be completed, so she is here to make the final adjustments.
Lane says in her pleasant Southern drawl, “I’m an artist but I’m also a big-time entrepreneur.” Finally, she takes a seat for a break while wearing star-printed denim and grinning as widely as the adjacent Cumberland River.
The first record Lane has released in five years is called Denim & Diamonds, and she has been a mainstay of country music for the past ten years. She is supported by strutting guitars and an unmistakable swagger as Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age handles production.
According to Homme’s latest Instagram post, “Making a record with Nikki Lane saved my life.” The concept was conceived during the dissolution of his marriage to Brody Dalle, a fellow musician, and amid a contentious legal proceeding in which Homme and Dalle filed an opposing domestic violence restraining order against one another. His statement was followed by, “Her songs about life, love, grief, and just plain pulling yourself up to go for another round in the ring.” They assisted me in doing the same, so, yeah.
Lane is a doer, as I have already observed. Nevertheless, she hasn’t been sitting back and enjoying her success even if she hasn’t been on the record store shelves. She has also been collaborating with her best friend Lana Del Rey on music, and her Stage Stop Marketplace, which sold custom western attire, was a hit at California’s Stagecoach Festival (also known as the “country Coachella”) (more on that later).
Even time for touring has been found by her. When traveling across the country for exhibits, Lane enjoys doing this while seated in a Jeep Cherokee. In the interim, she shops at estate sales and thrift shops in the most remote regions of the United States for items for her boutique.
She says, very deadpan, “The hunting is amazing – I am an addict, but I am hooked to cannabis and antiquing. “I’ve just chosen some things that aren’t going to injure anyone, but addiction is not a choice.
Everyone can go along with it if I want to compulsively purchase used belt buckles. What is Lane’s newest obsession? a wine decanter. “I wish I could provide a more amusing response. Even what to put in them is beyond my comprehension.
Over the course of more than a decade, Lane has developed her own distinctive brand of assured but corruptible country music. She sings on “First High,” the audacious opening track from Denim & Diamonds, “I took a stab at being pageant queen/But I landed up hanging with the punks at the park.”
Walk of Shame, her brazen breakup debut album, was published in 2011 and featured a Muddy Waters cover. Before that, she lived in Los Angeles in the early 2000s (which she refers to as her “razor haircut era”); a few years later, in Brooklyn, she had a musical awakening.
She says she became into psychedelic and old country music after relocating to New York. It was at that point that I started focusing on the strange material that inspired me to create music. Lane was drawn to vocalists like Neil Young and Karen Dalton because of their peculiar, unassumingly noncommercial vocals.
Along with that, she started to appreciate the traditional country music she had largely disregarded in her adolescence. I was familiar with Loretta Lynn growing up, the woman says. “However, being from the South, we were attempting to rebel against old country music. Teenage girls in the South aspire to acquire tattoos to rebel against society’s expectations.
The tats were done on her. However, Lane’s arms are covered in tattoos that resemble cowboy tattoos, fusing her adolescent yearning for rebellion with her more conventional ancestry. Horseshoes, feathers, and the trademark of the legendary Texas “outlaw country” singer Waylon Jennings are also present.
She half-jokes when we first meet about getting permanent versions of the handstamps required to enter Nashville’s two best bars, Robert’s on Broadway and the Legion, which hosts the infamous weekly bash Honky Tonk Tuesday and is the site of much two-stitching, cowboy hat wearing, and cheap beer consumption.
It’s Lane’s fourth album, Denim & Diamonds. It is unknown if it will serve as inspiration for a mezcal margarita with the same name, similar to 2017’s Highway Queen.
The menu at Pappy & Harriet’s saloon bar in Joshua Tree, California, still features the beverage. At the “final dinner” of the venue, which took place in April of last year before it was sold to new owners, Lane performed a few acoustic songs with Queens of the Stone Age.
She was working at Homme’s Pink Duck studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank throughout 2020 when she had already finished recording the album with him. She only brought her pedal steel player with her when she left her band in Nashville for the recording sessions.
Alain Johannes, a PJ Harvey and Mark Lanegan collaborator, Mikey Shoes, the bassist for QOTSA, and Carla Azar, the drummer for Autolux, all contributed further musical support. In terms of both approach and sound, the end product is Lane’s most rock’n’roll-leaning album to date.
Lane chuckles, “I had my most tequila-filled week ever. Joy and high spirits erupt through ten razor-sharp tunes, ranging from the thundering danger of “Black Widow” to the high and lonesome balladry of “Faded” and mournful ranchero swing of “Chimayo.”
Lane’s followers may need to get used to waiting; it took a while for new music to be released. She collaborated with Del Rey on the bluesy ballad “Breaking Up Slowly” from the album Chemtrails over the Country Club in 2021, but when I inquire about the potential release date for the songs they wrote while traveling through Texas in an F-150 pickup truck, she chuckles.
In our line of work, there is a recurring feeling that if you don’t do a task quickly, people will lose interest. The fact that it’s still there, however, is something I’ve accidentally demonstrated on this new record. The situation will continue as long as I’m present. Furthermore, it’s fun to act when others are sort of waiting for you too.
Sierra Ferrell is a different close friend who has just swept the Americana scene with her singular style of gypsy jazz and polka-infused bluegrass. My favorite part of Sierra is her voice, says Lane with a smile. Although she has a home base in Nashville, Ferrell spends significantly more time away from the city than she does in it due to a rigorous live schedule, like Lane.
However, Lane calls her as soon as she arrives back in town and requests a date. That kind of companionship is what I want the most, Lane adds. I can discuss specific issues relating to my profession with those individuals.
Additionally, they are the ones that will wear far too heavy fake eyelashes when going out to supper. Every chance she gets, Lane cooks for her pals and invites them over. Because we don’t have a typical domestic life, “anything to feel domestic together”
In our line of work, there is something that makes you feel as though you had to act quickly lest [the interest] wane: Nikki Lane
In a previous performance, Lane, Del Rey, and Ferrell debuted “The Prettiest Girl In Country Music,” a song whose title was inspired by something a creepy man once muttered into Lane’s ear. This song was first heard in January in Austin, Texas.
Is there any chance that the three may release an album soon that is similar to 1987’s Trio, a country record by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt? “I think that’s the dumbest idea ever,” shouts Lane. We never would have performed live. A workable schedule is impossible to find.
Instead, they’ll simply continue to have a blast when they do manage to get together, which is rare. They might also create music.
We’ll go honky tonking together or acquire a large home in Texas and live like a bunch of morons, swapping clothes and doing whatever – and there’ll be songs coming from it. However, it would almost f**k it up if you asked for a record. When you find out that we composed an entire album in ten years, I’d much rather you not know anything!
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