Reviewed by Steve Best
Somebody recently asked me if I thought there was a natural successor to Delirious? when it comes to British CCM, and it occurred to me that although there don't seem to be many bands on the up, the UK does have a crop of female solo artists to be very proud of - Esther Alexander and Cathy Burton (whose brilliant new album 'Speed Your Love' came out in the spring) to name just a couple, and, with due deference to these two, leading the field is Nicki. The casual observer of '90s girl pop outfit Shine could be forgiven for not picking Nicki as the member of the quartet who would thrive as a solo artist, but thrive she has, and after the stunning 2002 debut 'Colour Scheme', anticipation had been high for some months leading up to the May release of the follow-up. Was 'Colour Scheme' just a flash in the pan? Could Nicki write another set of songs as strong? Well, all these doubts are well and truly obliterated by a set which builds on the strong foundations of Nicki's debut, and takes things to another level altogether. The satisfying crunch of opener and recent single "Homeward" sets out Nicki's stall from the off. This is certainly a much edgier and more mature sound, once again produced by the criminally underrated Andy Harsant (the album title is Nicki taking a pot-shot at herself after what we'll kindly call "location difficulties" while driving to Andy's studios the first time). The piano ballads are still there such as the delicate "I Will", the ethereal swampy "Silence", "Stepping Down" and the acoustic led closer "Tell Me Something", but a quantum leap forward comes with the sassy pop of "You Step In", the rock swagger of "Saint Theresa", the dramatic build of "Feeling Hollow" and my personal favourite so far "Something Of A Miracle" which manages to out-Sheryl Sheryl Crow - no mean feat. This was everything I could have expected from Nicki and more and could well be one of the most significant records of 2004. Get it now, because Nicki Rogers is well on the way to becoming something of a national treasure!
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