Reaching back through her origin story and on to the present, having taken stock of the last decade of record-making, Nikki Lane returns with Denim & Diamonds – an album she wasn’t sure she even wanted to make. The full-tilt touring experience of 2017’s Highway Queen left Lane satisfied she’d given the road her all, and she was enjoying staying home or lending her distinctive country touch to the works of others like co-writing with Lana Del Rey on Rey’s Chemtrails Over The Country Club and collaborating on the British “space rock” band Spiritulized’s latest release Everything Was Beautiful. Lane was, however, stockpiling ideas. “I hadn’t made a record in years and did not really feel interested in making another one,” she says. “What I realized was how many little nuggets I was sitting on.”
This realization materialized into the upcoming and confident Denim & Diamonds after a phone call with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme that took place early on in the 2020 pandemic lockdown. This conversation propelled Lane to gather up those nuggets as well as her steel player Matt Pynn and take them to Homme’s Pink Duck Studios for full-on recording sessions with his Queens of the Stone Age collaborators Alain Johannes on guitar, Dean Fertita on organ & Michael Shuman on bass, as well as drummers Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys and Carla Azar of the post-punk band Autolux. This seemingly unlikely collaboration shows its strength out the gate with the retrospective rocker and first single, “First High,” and holds the energy through the kiss-off title track before making way for the pedal steel-carried “Faded.” The record moves through lessons learned like the burnout warning in “Born Tough” when Lane declares, “When I say I’ve had enough, darlin’ don’t you call my bluff, ‘cause I was born tough, and I’ve had enough.”
Then there’s “Pass It Down.” “It could be about religion, it could be about AA,” she says. “It’s about getting it off your chest in order to move on,” and move on she has. “I'm attracted to things that might catch me on fire, because that's the inkwell,” says Lane. “I got my confidence back in some ways. I remembered what I was good at. I’m in a good place.”
Denim & Diamonds is out September 23, and “First High” is spinning for listeners of The Colorado Sound, KXT, KGSR and more. Don’t miss Nikki Lane at the Fox Theatre as part of the JBE Triple A SummitFest, Wednesday, August 3.