Nikki Talley: Small Town, Big Voice

Nikki Talley at Clemson University

Nikki Talley at Clemson University

[Also published in this week’s Folio, p.64.]

Asheville, NC native Nikki Talley is spending the end of October in Florida. Her Oct. 28 gig at the Casbah is just one of seven planned for the region, starting with a double-shot at Magnolia Fest and ending at the Milltop Tavern in St. Augustine on the 31st. A fixture in the Mid-Atlantic’s acoustic scene, Talley has played around here before, but never as intensively. She has already acquired a core group of local fans whose “vocal” support has contributed to a steady uptick of bookings.

Talley tours in support of her third album, 2008’s To Be a Bird. Its recording was funded by her winnings from “Carolina Idol” in 2007.The spareness of the stripped-down voice-and-guitars dynamic puts special pressure on the artist to exhibit both songwriting skills and a clarity of both voice and instrument. Hardly simple or cliché, it can be totally uncompromising, but Talley appears up to the challenge.

She is mostly self-taught, having learned some guitar from her mother as a child in Georgia. By 19, she was playing bar gigs in Key West. Her debut disc, Brother, was released in 2002, paid for with a grant from her local arts council, while Telling Lies (2006) was home-recorded in Toronto. All tracks from the latter can be downloaded at Amazon, and all recordings can be gotten in person or via Internets.       

Talley works as a duet, no drums, with Jason Sharp playing extra strings. The intimacy of the setting, and their telepathic chemistry in performance reflects not only their professional chops, but also their status as a married couple. Asheville’s Mountain Express notes: “Talley’s voice is quietly commanding, and her songwriting evokes a sense of sorrowful exploration.” They’re not just hyping their homegirl—the music is good. It should be no surprise that her sound is so clean. What else would you expect from a woman who makes her own soap?; October 13, 2009


About Shelton Hull

I'm a writer/journalist with over 20 years experience covering all types of subject-matter, with a specialization in politics, music, food and dance. My work has been published in nearly 40 different magazines, newspapers, websites and zines, in addition to occasional forays into radio, TV and spoken-word. Former candidate for City Council District 14 in Jacksonville, FL (2011), and a proud member of Gator Nation.

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