[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?
firstname.lastname@example.org; October 13, 2009