1353 H St. NE
Washington, DC, 20002
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Nikki Lane’s stunning third album Highway Queen, out February 17th, 2017, sees
the young Nashville singer emerge as one of country and rock’s most gifted
songwriters. Co-produced by Lane and fellow singer-songwriter, Jonathan Tyler,
this emotional tour-de-force was recorded at Matt Pence’s Echo Lab studio in
Denton, Texas as well as at Club Roar with Collin Dupuis in Nashville, Tennessee.
Blending potent lyrics, unbridled blues guitars and vintage Sixties country-pop
swagger, Lane’s new music will resonate as easily with Lana Del Rey and Jenny
Lewis fans as those of Neil Young and Tom Petty.
Highway Queen is a journey through heartbreak that takes exquisite turns. The
record begins with a whiskey-soaked homage to Lane’s hometown (“700,000
Rednecks”) and ends on the profoundly raw “Forever Lasts Forever,” where Lane
mourns a failed marriage – the “lighter shade of skin” left behind from her
wedding ring. On “Forever” and the confessional “Muddy Waters,” Lane’s lyrics
align her with perceptive songwriters like Nick Lowe and Cass McCombs.
Elsewhere, “Companion” is pure Everly Brothers’ dreaminess (“I would spend a
lifetime/ Playing catch you if I can”). She goes on a Vegas bender on the rollicking
“Jackpot,” fights last-call blues (“Foolish Heart”) and tosses off brazen one-liners
at a backroom piano (“Big Mouth”).
“Love is the most unavoidable thing in the world,” Lane says. “The person you
pick could be half set-up to destroy your life with their own habits – I’ve certainly
experienced that before and taken way too long to get out of that mistake.”
In 2014, Lane’s second album All or Nothin’ (New West) solidified her sandpaper
voice beneath a ten-gallon hat as the new sound and look of outlaw country
music. Produced by Dan Auerbach, the record’s bluesy Western guitars paired
with Lane’s Dusty Springfield-esque voice earned glowing reviews from NPR, the
Guardian and Rolling Stone. In three years since her Walk of Shame debut, Lane
said she was living most of the year on the road.
Growing up, Lane used to watch her father pave asphalt during blistering South
Carolina summers. She’d sit on the roller (“what helps smooth out the asphalt”)
next to a guy named Rooster and divvy out Hardee’s lunch orders for the workers.
“My father thought he was a country singer,” Lane laughs. “He partied hard at
night, but by 6:30 AM he was out on the roads in 100-degree weather.” That’s the
southern work ethic, she says. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was
privileged with the knowledge of how to work hard, how to learn and to succeed
when things aren’t set up for me.” Creativity was an unthinkable luxury, she adds.
“When people told me I should try to get a record deal for songs I was writing, I
was like, ‘that’s cute – I’ve got to be at work at 10 A.M.’”
“Becoming a songwriter is one of the most selfish things I’ve ever done,” Lane
says plainly. She describes writing her first song at age 25 like it was a necessary
act of self-preservation after a devastating breakup. Many of her early songs, she
said on Shame and Nothin’, were about the fleetingness of relationships she
believed were permanent, she says. Lane’s main line of work in those days was a
fashion entrepreneur (she’s currently the owner of Nashville’s vintage clothing
boutique High Class Hillbilly). It brought her to cities around the country, New
York to Los Angeles to Nashville. And like a true wanderer, Lane’s sound
crisscrosses musical genres with ease, while the lonesome romantic in her
remains. Even a soft song like, “Send The Sun,” with its lilting downward strum,
is flush with bittersweet emotion. “Darling, we’re staring at the same moon,”
Lane sings lovingly. “I used to say that to my ex,” she says with cheerful stoicism,
“to try to brighten the long nights, stay positive.”
Highway Queen is poised to be Lane’s mainstream breakthrough. “Am I excited
to spend years of my life in a van, away from family and friends? No, but I’m
excited to share my songs, so they’ll reach people and help them get through
whatever they’re going through. To me, that’s worth it.”
“Lay You Down” is one of those unexpected moments for Lane. “That song was
inspired by something Levon Helm’s wife posted on Facebook when he was sick
with cancer,” Lane says. “I was just so moved by her telling the world how much
love he felt from people writing to them, and moved that because of the Internet,
I was able to see that love – even from a distance.” The song became surreal for
Lane and her band when her longtime guitarist, Alex Munoz, was diagnosed with
cancer while they were playing it. “It deepened my perspective and the
importance of keeping everyone safe,” says Lane.
On the record cover, Lane looks out on wide, unowned Texan plains, leaning on
the fearsome horns of a massive steer. Wearing a vintage Victorian dress, the
stark photo invokes a time before highways existed. The symbolism isn’t lost on
Lane. Highway Queen was a pioneering moment for her as an artist.
“I was always a smart girl, always had to yell to be heard,” she says, “But this was
the first time in my career where I decided how things were going to go; I was
willing to take the heat.” Lane included the bonus track “Champion” as a small
testament to that empowerment. “It makes a point,” Lane says with a smile, “That
I appreciate what you’re saying, but get the fuck out of my way.”
Blank Range is an American rock & roll band living in Nashville, TN. With nods to great things present & past, Blank Range stand tall as a unit and collapse wildly together in song and onstage.