Nicki Jaine’s music has been said to “…exist in its own universe, one in which Kurt Weill and Nico orbit a shadowy planet like twin moons…" Jaine’s live album includes 6 original compositions, as well as 4 songs from the 1930s/1940s (one particularly captivating song is performed in German). Some of the performances were recorded during Jaine’s opening set on the 2004 Black Tape for a Blue Girl US tour. Jaine’s stunning stage presence and unforgettable voice (which makes her irresistibly captivating in a Marlene Dietrich kind of way) are beautifully captured on this album. As a journalist eloquently wrote, “…with her cabaret noir style and a compelling to coquettish emotional nudity, Nicki Jaine is simply timeless.”
10 songs packaged in an environmentally friendly 5" cardboard wallet.
Nicki Jaine has become one of the hottest names in goth/avant-garde music. Hot off a project with Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s Sam Rosenthal and a high profile tour with them as well, Nicki has released a powerful and intimate sounding album of live material she collected during the tour. Fans of her album Of Pigeons & Other Curiosities will be blown away by new material, covers, and tremendously intense versions of songs from her debut album. (Read the full interview at the link for the headline of this quote)
A live album always needs something that sets it apart from a studio recording, some nuance that brings the moment to life or an idiosyncratic gift of the performer's personality. Nicki Jaine's Live casts her in spot lit roles, giving us a closer reading of her wryly playful, vulerable and world-wise eloquence. She plays up her unusual, deep and precise voice until she seems to exist in an atmosphere of a different vintage and origin that the nightclubs she played. The spare, brisk accompaniment on piano and acoustic guitar seem to place her in a smoky speakeasy, while each carefully turned syllable evokes such craving it's as if her voice was drizzled in melting chocolate. She's also not afraid to break character, singing "Alabama Song" with gusto over the crowd and drawing a round of applause. -Carolee
Drat these singers with their confusing albums and cover versions. No sooner was I thinking about whether Helmut Kohl was named after makeup than I have to start investigating where all these songs originate. Research, they name is Mick, that’s all I can say. Obviously those songs included here which aren’t her own have a historical allure.
Jaine’s ‘Of Pigeons And Other Curiosities’ was a fantastic album, showing a fluid post-Cabaret fusion of dignified contempt, and that same feel is here, cast in a naturally intimate setting with sparse but gloriously melodic compositions. The only thing which threatens the intimate status is Jaine’s remarkably powerful voice. Never strident she still reminds you of a prize fighter on tiptoe, or a ballerina toting one gigantic flamethrower.
The more recent recording, at Oddette’s in 2006, has the weedily emotional ‘Near You’ (Francis Craig/Kermet Goell) which implies Jaine has a thing for the Andrews Sisters, as well as Dietrich, who has covered both that and ‘Ich Bin Von Kopf Bis Fuß Auf Liebe Eingstellt’ (Frederick Hollander) but….Jaine can’t help it. (Boom tch!) The Weill/Brecht standard of ‘Alabama Song’ seems a bit addled albeit with authentic bar sounds encroaching.
From a venue named Sabala’s in 2004 we get five songs. ‘Pretty faces’ is a trim, mocking opener, and ‘Sound Of Girls’ jaunty as Hell showing how brilliant ideas are just bursting out of nowhere. ‘Pigeon Named Crow’ is delicately disturbing and the forlorn ‘Amsterdam’ achingly beautiful, with ‘One More Show’ frankly scary!
There are also two songs from a 2006 rehearsal session, with ‘Sometimes Sunshine’ a playful drama, Jaine’s staggered vocals butting musical heads with a vibrant piano, and ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schön’ (originally by Shalom Secunda and Jacob Jacobs, for a musical I Would if I Could, if that helps) is a grand welter of enchanting praise.
She’s one talented, mercurial dame, and this is available dirt cheap on the Proijekt site. Highly recommended.
The old-world music style of cabaret is enjoying a resurgence at the qualified hands of several, very talented performers. Some of it is modified to fit today’s adventurous mode while a very small and distinct group of genuine artistes have worked an authentic sliver of the real thing. The original styles of cabaret involved social and political satire within the core of it, which provided the quality of its popularity. To get it with musical perfection was the equivalence of bliss - a great time, friends, great music, and a chance to laugh and to be inspired. This was the beat generation of the ‘30s and pre-war ‘40s. Chief amongst the new purveyors of the original experience is Nicki Jaine.
Nicki Jaine is a natural. She has a beautiful, Germanic appearance that lends greatly to the presented show effect of a genuine cabaret chanteuse – sleek build, sculptured features, and a deep, honeyed voice. On her new release, Nicki Jaine Live, she delivers on every aspect of cabaret with her songs that look at people, effects, as well as genuine commentary on the humanity (or lack thereof) of the world’s inhabitants.
Much of Nicki Jaine Live is of her own compositions, beginning with the observational “Pretty Faces,” and including the deeper depths of “Pigeon Named Crow” (“…pretty little girls grow up to be vicious liars…”), and the hauntingly effective “Amsterdam.” It is rounded out by a few rehearsal cuts, and completes with covers from Weill/Brecht (“Alabama Song”), Craig/Goell (“Near You”), and Frederick Hollander (“Ich Bin Von Kopf Bis FuB Auf Liebe Eingestellt”). The covers are genuine
To fully enjoy an authentic cabaret, you first have to go through Nicki Jaine. Otherwise, your approach has been for naught. Trust me, Nicki Jaine is the real deal for the “lost art” cabaret experience. -Matt Rowe
Whether it's the ache through which she tinkles the piano, slams her guitar or enunciates her anxious intentions, Nicki Jaine oozes tortured, teasing sexuality. (I didn't mention she also plays concertina and musical saw. Consider it mentioned.) There's a big Germanic element to the Philly songstress' cabaret craft—a meeting of Strange Weather-era Marianne Faithfull and any-era Lotte Lenya—whether she's solo or backing up Black Tape for a Blue Girl. When Jaine does "Alabama Song" from Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany, or Dietrich's "Ich Bin Von Kopf Bis Fuß Auf Liebe Eingestellt," or even the dippy "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön," from the Andrews Sisters' catalog, you'll think of Isherwood's Berlin Stories crushed and put to music. But on the brand-new Nicki Jaine Live you hear a darting moodiness on originals like "A Pigeon Named Crow" and "Sometimes, Sunshine" that's thoroughly modern. —A.D. Amorosi