Danielle Nicole: Wolf Den Review

Wolf Den is the new solo album of Kansas City-based blues/soul singer Danielle Nicole. Beginning with a thrumming guitar sound, the album’s title track plods forward with a prowling, creeping organ, establishing a dive bar tableau replete with yellow-eyed predators and fire-tailed vixens. The repeated howl following virtually every mention of ‘wolf den’ is unfortunate, but this unnecessary addition can be disregarded in light of the song’s night-friendly, sultry rock feel. “How You Gonna Do Me Like That” features similar organ play and gives Nicole a chance to showcase her soulful vocals atop an undercurrent of funky guitar.

“Take it All” is a bit of a throwback, instantly bringing to mind the exclamatory lament and hopping piano chords of The Beatles’ “Oh, Darling!” but any track that puts a musician in the same conversation as the Fab Four is one that is not be ignored. Speaking of musical legends, the sounds of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s collaboration “Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)” come through on Nicole’s confronting track, “You Only Need Me When You’re Down” before the album downshifts substantially into “Just Give Me Tonight,” a torch song set to burn to the tune of a Memphis nocturne.

“Easin’ Into the Night” is an instant pickup with its quasi-glissando opening and juxtaposes the previous track in a confounding way – I can see Danielle Nicole on an orange-lighted stage, drowning out the Wurlitzer in a Fayetteville roadhouse, taking her cues from a bipolar guitar. “Didn’t Do You No Good” is the hardest-rocking track on the album, featuring much insistence from the guitar as Nicole stretches her voice’s heights and depths with a conscious, affecting strain.

“Waiting for Your Love” rockets Wolf Den back to tenderness with a Sugarland-meets-Sheryl-Crow track of intimate longing. “I Feel Like Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home” features the album’s longest intro, giving the instrumentalists their spotlight in this bed-burner about convenient infidelity. “It Ain’t You” is a song that finds the speaker at the quitting point, fed up with the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ of an ambivalent man and “In My Dreams” begins with heavy percussion and a tripping piano that gives this song about memory and romanticization a free jazz and (appropriate) dream-like feel. “Fade Away” rounds off the album with a recapitulation of the Kansas City funk that has twisted its roots throughout the groundwater of Wolf Den, a fitting tribute to a historic city of innovative music and monumental talents – Danielle Nicole finding herself among that count.

 The Review: 8/10

 Can’t Miss Tracks

– Wolf Den
– Take it All
– Just Give Me Tonight
– Easin’ into the Night
– Didn’t Do You No Good

 The Big Hit

– Wolf Den

Review by McKinnie Sizemore

Buy the album: Amazon

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