Album release: Loved Wild Lost by Nicki Bluhm & The Gamblers
Release date: 9 October 2015
Label: Republic of Music
More info: Band website
With 'Loved Wild Lost', Little Sur recording group Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers fully affirm a current place in the long winding continuum of the California Sound, born of folk, rock, country, psychedelia, blues, and pop, as ageless, adventurous, and ever-adaptive as the Golden State itself. The new record – which follows their much lauded self-titled 2013 debut – sees Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers teaming with producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Josh Ritter), their first time working with an outside collaborator. The result is the critically acclaimed band’s most compelling collection thus far, its richly layered sound the ideal foundation for Bluhm’s remarkable voice and resonant lyrical gifts. Further colour comes from San Francisco’s Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)whose complex arrangements serve to amplify the indelibly universal themes of Simpler Times and the captivating single Waiting On Love.
With three years and hundreds of live shows behind them since the release of their debut, a period of creative growth and personal reflection was spurred, giving rise to songs like Love Your Loved Ones which explores life’s seismic shifts, in what Nicki describes as “the struggle to retain the energy and optimism of youth as life becomes more complex.” Together, Deck and the band made a conscious effort to hone The Gramblers’ sound, fusing a framework of archetypal musical idioms into something unique and universal, its individual elements complementing and counterpointing the songs’ deeper themes.
“On the last record there’s a little bit of soul, a little bit of country, a little bit of rock,” Nicki says. “This record, we were trying to make it much more cohesive.”
Also enlisted in songwriting duties is multi-instrumentalist, and Nicki’s husband, Tim Bluhm. The quintessential Golden State journeyman musician, known for two decades as singer/guitarist/primary songwriter in beloved SF rock ‘n’ rollers The Mother Hips, first assembled The Gramblers in 2008 to serve as Nicki’s road band in support of her two Tim-produced solo outings. The line-up soon gelled into its current state, comprising Nicki’s childhood friend, guitarist/songwriter Derek Ney, bassist Steve Adams, rhythm guitarist Dave Mulligan, and drummer Mike Curry. The Gramblers no longer being just a vehicle for Nicki’s songs, but a full-blown band experience. Nicki’s “favorite living songwriter,” Tim-penned songs like High Neck Lace allow his beloved to articulate herself on a vast array of subjects, spanning aging, personal politics, intense psychological observation, the search for meaning, and the very mysteries of life itself.
“Our music definitely hearkens another era,” says Nicki Bluhm, “but at the same time, we want it to be contemporary. Reflective of now even though it nods to other times. We want it to be vintage modern.”
Keep an eye out for Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers to tour the UK in January 2016.
Press reaction to date
- “a modest, melodic gem [that] neatly combines the rustic vibe of The Band with the more polished approach of Buckingham/Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac.” – American Songwriter
- “a slow-burner, with keening steel guitar and eddies of strings surrounding Bluhm’s warm, inviting vocals,” – The Wall Street Journal
- “Bluhm is sexy and soulful, showing a bit of Janis [Joplin], Etta [James} and Amy [Winehouse] in her vocals.” – Boston Herald