With the wind in her sails from receiving two consecutive Americana Music Association UK award nominations (2017 UK Album of the Year for Mockingbird Lane and 2018 UK Artist of the Year), singer/songwriter Danni Nicholls has embarked upon her next artistic journey - her third studio album The Melted Morning with a new producer at the helm. Once again, Nashville, Tennessee, has played host to her musical undertaking, as the city has long held a special place in Danni’s heart.
From the honky-tonks of Broadway to the woods of Whites Creek, Nashville has become something of an adopted hometown for Danni, with the creative community warmly welcoming her presence. “My time in Music City making music with incredible musicians has been a life altering experience” she says. “It has fuelled my inspiration, forced me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to raise my game”
Over the past few years, Danni has played shows with the likes of Shakin’ Stevens (28 date UK wide tour), Lucinda Williams, Sturgill Simpson, The Secret Sisters and other notables and been invited to perform at festivals around the world, including Cambridge Folk, Tønder, Denmark, Folk Alliance International and AmericanaFest, Nashville.
The word that recurs most often in reviews of Danni’s songs and performances is “elegance.” She’s too modest to agree, but it’s a style she has lovingly, honed across what is truly an entire lifetime in music, and one with all sorts of interesting cultural twists and artistic turns.
The small town of Bedford, UK, served as the backdrop to Danni’s childhood, scored by her grandmother’s collection of American folk, country, and rock ‘n’ roll records. “The Anglo-Indian side of my family — my mum’s side — are real party animals,” she laughs. “We had constant house parties at my grandparents’ place, parties in halls, or with family in London. There would just always be great American roots music blasting out, jive dancing, and singing. Music from rock ‘n’ roll to country and western to soul. My grandmother loves country music. It would always be playing in the house. She would often talk about the Grand Ole Opry so it was just in my psyche from a really young age.”
Then, at 16, Danni inherited her Uncle Heathcliff’s 1963 Burns London short-scale jazz guitar which was rumoured to have once belonged to Billy Fury. Danni’s connection with the guitar was instantaneous, and having played saxophone since age 9, she had a musical foundation upon which to build her songwriting skills. As soon as she knew two chords, she was off writing her own songs and, before long, performing at school assemblies, selling homemade albums of her songs.
Eventually, she recorded and released two EPs, Heavy Shoes (2009 produced by Tim Bidwell in Brighton, UK) and Time (2012 produced by Iain Archer in London) before meeting bassist/producer Chris Donohue in 2011. “I went to see one of my sheroes, Emmylou Harris, at the Royal Festival Hall with a friend who knew her bass player, Chris,” she says. “We got chatting for a while, and I mentioned I was heading to Nashville in a few weeks. He gave me his card and said to let him know when I got to town. Five minutes later, he was up on stage with Emmylou. Obviously, I got in touch and the rest is history.” With some of Nashville’s finest musicians in tow, the pair have now made two critically acclaimed albums — 2013’s A Little Redemption and 2015’s award nominated Mockingbird Lane.
2019 sees the release of her third. The Melted Morning was produced by Jordan Brooke Hamlin (The Indigo Girls, Lucy Wainwright-Roche) at the idyllic woodland studio MOXE, Nashville TN.
“I needed a new challenge, a new landscape to work in sonically, physically, energetically and viscerally. Collaborating with Jordan and this incredible team of women gave me that opportunity and we have created a delicate, vibey, honest and vulnerable collection of songs that we dove deep into to find out who they wanted to become”
Closely personal yet widely relatable, the themes of this album span an array of life’s takeaways; from the pain and darkness of rejection, the fear of losing yourself and the power of human connection to offering up hope and new perspectives in the face of adversities.
Love and guts, moxie and magic… that’s the stuff dreams are made of, and Danni Nicholls’ dreams are coming true.
“Her passion for her craft is unparalleled. Her depth of emotion, commitment to the song, and ability to go deep makes her a rare artist”
Jed Hilly, Director of the Americana Music Association
“An artist with the elegance and imagination to restore your faith in the visceral power of an original song”
Paul Sexton, BBC Radio 2 and freelance print/broadcast journalist
“I absolutely love the elegance and beauty of her music” - Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
“Smoky soul, folk-pop and heart-wrenching alt-country, all in a rich voice” - Q Magazine
“Sumptuous…a warm wry line in confessional songwriting” - UNCUT
“One in a million…” - Maverick Music Magazine