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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Avondale Drive
Artist - Nicki Bluhm

For those not in the know, a San Franciscan now calling Tennessee home, Nicki Bluhm possesses a modern, clear-eyed perspective that grabs the heart and keeps you holding on to every word.

Bluhm’s music career began in the Cow Hollow area of San Francisco, where she recorded two solo albums and co-founded Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers.

The band wrote and performed their own music and recorded covers nostalgic to their childhoods, including the Hall and Oates classic “I Can’t Go For That.”

After gaining widespread attention for their “Van Sessions” on YouTube, they toured internationally and recorded two albums as a band.

The band’s meteoric ascent into the public eye had its obvious blessings, but it came with challenges as well, particularly for Bluhm’s creative process.

Says Bluhm, “It’s been confusing learning how to move away from defining success in an algorithmic way; how many clicks and likes and views you can get. These past few years have been a process of trying to articulate my authentic voice, which has taken a lot of self-reflection, vulnerability, and to be honest, therapy.”

In 2017 Bluhm made the decision to leave California to forge a career as a solo artist in Nashville. Her ensuing solo album, To Rise You Gotta Fall (2018), plumbed the depths of hard goodbyes and hopeful beginnings. Produced by Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Calexico) and recorded in the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Services in Memphis, the album exhibited a natural blending of Tennessee sound and Bluhm’s West Coast roots, which she jokes as being her ‘CaliMemphis’ sound.

In 2020, Bluhm embarked on creating her new album with Los Angeles producer Jesse Noah Wilson. Releasing in June of 2022, Avondale Drive is a masterful exploration of what it means to be fully yourself, rather than a vessel for the expectations of others.

“This album is a lot about building trust back in myself. Finding my own inner compass and aligning it to my authentic self,” she says. “When you go through a lot of trauma, divorce, estrangement you learn that you don’t have to repeat the patterns of the past or continue to identify with the old story.”

1. Learn to Love Myself
2. Love to Spare
3. Feel
4. Sweet Surrender
5. Juniper Woodsmoke
6. Friends (How To Do It)
7. Mother’s Daughter
8. Fool’s Gold
9. Leaving Me (Is the Loving Thing to Do)
10. Wheels Rolling

This lushly created, smoothly orchestrated, and wholly heartfelt new album opens on those saliant, poignantly gestational moments found within self-reflection on the, at first, waves of a melodic Hawaiian hipsway that later turn into a twanging guitar bed of Learn to Love Myself, the lonesome ode to the confusion of middle-aged dating within the organ-imbibed Love to Spare (which Bluhm co-wrote with songwriter A.J. Croce), and then comes the funky blues foot tapper Feel, itself a juxtaposition of sentiments and time signatures, the velvet gossamer of Sweet Surrender (which aptly defines a crucial lesson in the human experience), and then comes her rhythmic reflections on her 10-year marriage to musician Tim Bluhm within Juniper Woodsmoke.

Up next on this truly beautiful, musically embracing, artistically triumphant album is the mid-tempo Friends (How To Do It), a duet with Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers) it is an amusing shake of the head at the follies of dating in the modern world, which is itself followed by her earnest outreach, a rallying cry for survivors of harassment and sexual assault within Mother’s Daughter, and then comes my own personal favorite here, the stylistic nod to the theatrical sonic landscape of Ennio Morricone within the gently jaunty Fool’s Gold, the album rounding out on the heart-wrenching ballad (about the moment of realization that a relationship is over) Leaving Me (Is the Loving Thing to Do), closing on the atmospherically-charged, free-wheeling ode to the theme of trust within Wheels Rolling.

Recorded in Bluhm’s home in East Nashville, and featuring the talents of luminaries like Oliver Wood, James Pennebaker, Jay Bellerose, Jen Condos, Erik Slick, Erin Rae, Karl Denson, A.J. Croce and more, Avondale Drive combines nostalgic country-rock with distinctly modern, sharp lyricism — an apt contrast for the process of studying one’s past in order to make a better future.

05/07/22 PELHAM, TN The Caverns w/Bill Nershi
05/17/22 JOSHUA TREE, CA Bahootenzie Folk Fest w/Steve Poltz
06/10/22 LAYTONVILLE, CA Hog Farm Hideaway 2022
07/08/22 ANN ARBOR, MI The Ark
07/09/22 PETOSKEY, MI Blissfest 2022
09/09/22 BRISTOL, TN Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion 2022

More dates to be announced soon.

Official Purchase Link

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Nicki Bluhm @ YouTube