All or Nothin’
New West

Nikki Lane is touted as both a modern-day Wanda Jackson and a (rather fetching) country outlaw, and not without a number of but hardly all-fitting reasons. This assertive and emotive North Carolina-reared singer and songwriter who landed in Nashville by way of New York City is grounded bare feet and ankles in the trad sounds and spirit of smart, strong Southern women who know heartache but don’t take no crap that came before her. But on her third release, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, she maps a route for fellow old-schoolers to also be progressive and shake off the stasis that infects far too much under the Americana rubric. Yeah, the high-stepping “Man Up” (think Loretta’s “Fist City”) and swirling “I Want My Heart Back” have tear-drenched steel and crackling six-string twang echoing within a vintage ’50s/’60s Bradley’s Barn big room sound. But at the same time, there’s a jolt of rock ’n’ soul voltage in “Sleep with a Stranger,” splashes of New Wave garage pop and psychobilly guitar in “I Don’s Care,” and a dip into Muscle Shoals waters on the title tune to show how Lane refigures the tried-and-true forms into fresh and tasty treats for today. The only quibble here is that Auerbach buries her Dixie-drawling, burnished-bell of a voice in the mix. But that shouldn’t prevent Lane from evoking swoons from listeners of both genders and intimations of a lasting future run of Lucinda Williams-level stature. All or Nothin’ is an ideal Saturday-night-into-Sunday-morning date of a disc with one way-cool country chick. — ROB PATTERSON