Pennies in a Jar

Pennies in a Jar

by Nikki JeanNikki Jean


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Merely eyeing the sleeve and scanning the songwriting credits, it appears likely that Nikki Jean's Pennies in a Jar is a sample-heavy nostalgia trip through classic '60s and early-'70s pop and soul (with a little country), maybe with a modernized hip-hop spin on it. That's not the case. It does sound like a nostalgia trip, but all the material is new, written by the twenty-something Nikki Jean alongside a Grammy-baiting list of songwriting legends. Thom Bell, Luigi Creatore, Lamont Dozier, Burt Bacharach, Jeff Barry, Carole King, Bobby Braddock, Paul Williams, Jimmy Webb, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Carly Simon were all visited by Nikki Jean, who took the songs to producers Sam Hollander and Dave Katz and a set of session musicians. It sounds like some kind of jackpot-fantasy American Idol working vacation. The album was nearing completion when Columbia dropped the artist, allegedly telling her "Nobody cares about these writers," possibly unaware that another artist on the roster, Raphael Saadiq, was in the process of making a second album that emulated the work of those very writers. More significantly, this is the type of thing Nikki Jean -- a music nerd with a lithe, quietly potent voice -- should be doing, and the S-Curve label, which rescued the project, was sensible enough to see that. Guest verses from Lupe Fiasco and Black Thought excepted, the album is a throwback, and each song gets an appropriately classicist backdrop, from the pedal steel and strings on "How to Unring a Bell" (written with Bell), to the slow-motion dream world sound of "Pennies in a Jar" (Bacharach). Taking the music on its own, divorced of context -- without considering the elder songwriters' overwhelming collective body of work -- is close to impossible, but it's very easy to enjoy, voiced by a remarkably refined artist who is neither squarely R&B nor pop, certainly worthy of being granted quality material co-written by some of her heroes. The icing is "Steel and Feathers (Don't Ever)," a gospel/country devotional left unfinished for 30 years until its writer, Bob Dylan, allowed Nikki Jean to complete and record it.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/12/2011
Label: S-Curve Records
UPC: 0807315180126
catalogNumber: 51801
Rank: 128574

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nikki Jean   Primary Artist
Carole King   Background Vocals
Betty Wright   Background Vocals
Zelma Davis   Background Vocals
Patrice Parker   Background Vocals
Mike Daly   Pedal Steel Guitar
Aisha McCray   Background Vocals
Matt Beck   Banjo
Greg Glassman   Flugelhorn
Sean Gould   Guitar
Michael Tolcher   Background Vocals
Adam Pallin   Bass
Ghost Of Harlem   Keyboards
Grant Michaels   Keyboards
Ray Angry   Keyboards
Mark Evitts   Strings
Nir "Z" Zidkyahu   Drums

Technical Credits

Bob Dylan   Composer
Carole King   Composer
Carly Simon   Composer
Burt Bacharach   Composer
Jimmy Webb   Composer
Bobby Braddock   Composer
Jeff Barry   Composer
Thom Bell   Composer
Luigi Creatore   Composer
Lamont Dozier   Composer
Cynthia Weil   Composer
Mike Daly   Engineer
Howie Beno   Engineer
Tariq Trotter   Composer
Barry Man   Composer
Sam Hollander   Composer
Josh Edmondson   String Arrangements
Sean Gould   Engineer
Patrick Hegarty   Art Direction
S*A*M   Producer
Dave Katz   Composer
Sluggo   Producer
Adam Pallin   Programming,Producer,Engineer
David Schommer   Composer
Wanda Jaco   Composer
Nicholle Jean Leary   Composer
Jill Conniff   Composer

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