To Rise You Gotta Fall

To Rise You Gotta Fall

by Nicki Bluhm


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Heartbreak is never any fun, but it sure seems to be good fuel for the creative process. Nicki Bluhm first found an audience for her rich, smoky voice while making music with her husband Tim Bluhm, who produced her early albums and co-founded their band, the Gramblers. But in November 2015, the Bluhms revealed they were getting a divorce, and their creative partnership ended along with their marriage. Splitting up was clearly not a pleasant experience for Nicki, and she lays out all her hurt and disappointment on her 2018 album, To Rise You Gotta Fall. This is a breakup album if there ever were such a thing, but Bluhm doesn't sound like the experience has weakened her. There are bittersweet moments in "Staring at the Sun" and "Last to Know" where Bluhm reveals her emotional wounds, but more often she sounds clear-eyed in her postmortem of her relationship ("Something Really Mean") or defiant as she moves past the wreckage ("Can't Fool the Fool" and "Things I've Done"). Musically, To Rise You Gotta Fall is steeped in vintage R&B and soul with a dash of country for seasoning, and the bluesy angles of the music are a perfect match for Bluhm's ruminations on a love that used to be. The album was cut in Memphis at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio, and producer Matt Ross-Spang has put together a band that can evoke the sounds of R&B past without sounding dated or falsely nostalgic. And To Rise You Gotta Fall features some of Bluhm's finest vocal work, filled with passion and nuance at the same time, and for all the powerful emotions in play here, she doesn't overplay, and the focus and restraint only make this music more intense. Hopefully Nicki Bluhm won't have to get dumped again for her to make an album this good, but at least she found a way to put her broken heart to good use, and To Rise You Gotta Fall ranks with her best music to date.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/01/2018
Label: Compass Records
UPC: 0766397471228
catalogNumber: 4712
Rank: 57315

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nicki Bluhm   Primary Artist,Hand Clapping
Ken Coomer   Percussion,Drums
Susan Marshall   Background Vocals
Sam Shoup   Mellotron
Jim Spake   Baritone Saxophone
Gamble   Hammond B3
Will Sexton   Electric Guitar
Dave Smith   Bass
Rick Steff   Piano,Wurlitzer,Piano (Upright)
Heather Trussell   Violin
Reba Russell   Background Vocals
Neal Shaffer   Violin
Matt Ross-Spang   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Moog Synthesizer,Gut String Guitar,Hand Clapping
Wesley Graham   Hand Clapping
Elen Wroten   Cello
Tamatha Holt   Viola

Technical Credits

Dan Penn   Composer
Sam Shoup   String Arrangements
Rick Steff   Composer
Steve Poltz   Composer
Ryan Adams   Composer
Scot Sax   Composer
Alexi Glickman   Composer
Simon Gugala   Composer
Leroy Daniel   Composer
Nicki Bluhm   Composer
Matt Ross-Spang   Composer,Producer,Engineer

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