Raw and Tender: Intimate and Magical

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Entering the stage, Jim looming around to the drumkit, Nicole greeted us as she picked up her white electric guitar, there was something intimate and magical in the air.  After encouraging us to come closer, Nicole opens with the title track from Neptune City, a sentimental slow easing into her voice and vibe. Lamenting on life pre-lockdown and some of her predictions coming true, the pace picked up with AM Gold, where we could hear the full power of Atkins’s voice, the audience swaying in a dream-like state, was slapped up another level with the marching Memphis soul rock out of Brokedown Luck, punctuated with Sclavuno’s forthright drumming. The show carried on through, with the Atkins raw and tender tracks from Italian Ice, with the audience slow dancing and singing along quietly to tracks about love, loss, and the human condition. Interspliced with fun anecdotes of music family back home, where musicians are just that, they will play with anyone and everyone, with little regard for awards or being star-struck. This energy shone through Atkins and Sclavunos too, with cynical, semi-bickering, and laughing at each other, you could see why this duo worked together well.

As the set was coming to an end, then came the duo’s recent recordings, with Jim cracking open his heart with Memories, a song about his mother, who he had lost. The raw vulnerability of his performance, felt like we were being entrusted with a piece of his deep soul, as tears welled up in the audience, Atkins amplifying the tenderness. Then came the sweetness of their music making, with Jim joining Nicole front stage, into the audience and playfully dancing, as they sang Tom Waits to each other and us.

The performance on Saturday, felt more like an intimate studio listening session, more than a gig. We heard and saw a side to both artists, coming to the end of their UK tour, to secretly share their upcoming album. Tentative and tired, they sang with a raw, unapologetic, sentimentality of yesteryear and the need to connect, slow dance, and be ok with your tender side. As a new listener to their music, I have found an Atkins and Sclavunos space in my musical heart. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Duo Nicole Atkins and Jim Sclavunos hit Cardiff on June 10th as part of their 11-date UK Tour,  giving us a sneak preview of some of their new duets taken from their forthcoming project, alongside pieces from Atkins’ albums, Italian Ice, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, and Neptune City

Atkins & Sclavunos, both artists in their own rights have been doing their thing separately for years, with Atkins receiving many accolades and attention for her rock-infused raspy, psychedelic country soul vocals….think Stevie Nicks meets Alice Goldfrapp. I heard her compared to Roy Orbison, but aside from a signature sliding vibrato, that’s where the similarity ended for me.
Sclavunos has been knocking around since the late 70’s, fronting his own nu-wave groups and playing stints for Sonic Youth, the Cramps, and Nick Cave, as one of his Bad Seeds. Predominantly known for his drumming, Sclavunos is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter too.

Walking into the ground floor space at Clwb, I was met with a humid full room, with revelers sprawled like hot lizards in a deep south bayou, setting the scene perfectly for what was about to come. I went to the gig, relatively unaware of the musical history, as I just wanted to listen with fresh ears. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]